Design for Healthly Acoustics

Healthy acoustics is certainly taken very seriously in the work place. Studies show that in well-designed acoustic environments students study more effectively, patients recover faster, productivity improves, and stress is reduced. #healthyhousedesign

The human ear developed in a natural environment mainly to warn us of danger and understand speech. The modern environment presents many challenges when designing for acoustic comfort. The home design needs to minimise sounds we don’t want and allow for high quality sounds we do.

It may not have happened to you but in low specification Spanish apartments it is common for you to be able to hear your neighbour having a pee. Architects allow this to happen. Have you ever had breakfast in a Spanish café with the banging of all the saucers on the aluminium bar followed by the banging of the cups and the loud hissing of the coffee machine? Did you know that according to the internet Spain is the noisiest country in the world? – think motorbikes in city centres. Have you ever felt a tremendous sense of relief when someone turns off the air conditioning, or the kitchen extractor hood? Low level machinery noise is a proven source of stress.

We need to be aware of the psychological effects of noise and acoustics. We know that our interpretation of sound is culturally dependent. Spanish people are not particularly bothered by motorbike noise because they grew up with it. Are you looking for peace and quiet?

So, yes, healthy acoustics is a thing in any house design and that includes designing your Spanish villa.
What kind of things do we need to look out for?

We need to think of sound insulation between important rooms. All bedrooms should be well insulated for a good night’s sleep and insulated from the bathroom especially if two people are using the bedroom so that if one needs the bathroom during the night they don’t disturb the other. Media rooms or music rooms and play rooms need to be insulated from studies, reading rooms, and meditation spaces.

Personally I think every home should have a quiet place or two. I call it “the right spot”, a place to be quiet maybe enjoy the view, have breakfast, read a book, or conjure up ecstatic feelings.

We need to think of sound dampening around machinery such as air conditioning and ventilation systems and ducting. Continuous low level humming can create long term stress and anxiety. The extractor hood in the kitchen for example.

Also ducting: noise can reverberate up the ducting

We need to be aware of the acoustics in a room. Lots of hard surfaces and minimalist furniture, if that’s your styles, will create hard echo-y acoustics whereas texture will soften the acoustics.
We may need to think about the distance from neighbours or even the kind of neighbour.

The wikepedia entry is quite informative so here is the link.