Virtual Acoustic Reality
This project is a unique and cutting-edge tool for both clients and design teams and could transform building and infrastructure design with a combination of audio-prediction modelling and gaming-quality graphics. It involves the design and development of a portable, interactive audio and visual virtual experience. Acoustics is often referred to as a dark art. It is full of different notations and definitions and a lot of time is spent trying to convey the meaning of these to the design team and to clients. Acousticians specify products designed to control the reverberation time, but what does a reverberation time of 0.8 s actually sound like? When a contractor value engineers a design and noise levels increase by 5 dB, how will that change the sound?
VAR links a powerful 3D graphics programme with the CATT Acoustic software to enable clients and the design team to fully immerse themselves within a virtual world and be able to walk around the building, whilst listening to the audio signal change in real time.
The judges recognised that this entry was slightly different from what they had expected but it was very relevant to building acoustics. It was a fantastic tool to engage the client very early in a project about the importance of the correct acoustics. It would also be useful for the design teams to try different solutions before committing to a particular design and it helps to demystify acoustics and raises the bar in client engagement and empowerment. For innovation and contribution to acoustics and public perception, this is the award winner.