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 The Soundscape of Twenty- First-Century Libraries
Gary W. Siebein, Keely M. Siebein, Marylin Roa, and Hyun G. Paek
The library of the twenty-first century is not a nine-to-five operation. Instead, it is open all day and into the evening, often very late at night on college campuses, and more typically, every day of the week in a highly variable acoustical calendar. It houses a wide range of very diverse program uses, many involving the active engagement of users in both indoor and outdoor activities that provide a variety of communication experiences. The expanded uses bring with them a broadened taxonomy of sounds and expanded itineraries of heterogeneous individuals and groups of users.
In effect, the soundscape of twenty-first-century libraries is a design-based investigation into the rapidly evolving uses of the space. These include the media used in the library, architectural design strategies, and the acoustical attributes of libraries. Academic research and professional acoustical consulting practice in the design of vital soundscapes with multiple communication paths can have a significant impact on the design of successful libraries for communities, schools, institutions, and universities. Siebein (2013a,b) has defined five levels and seven elements of soundscapes that are pertinent to the design of libraries.
Five Levels of Soundscape Design
Siebein (2013b) identified five points in the design process that soundscape theories can inform the design of buildings. (1) The inspiration for a project occurs before any
design actually begins. The inspiration is the underlying philosophy that guides the design and helps to set the framework within which the design occurs. Metaphors are often used by architects and soundscape designers to contribute underlying ideas to a project at its initial conception.
(2)Planningisthelargerscaledesignideasthatorganize the experience of the building along a sequence of
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spaces or “moments” where communication and
interaction can occur in space and time.
(3) A conceptual structure is the underlying set of principles and ultimately geometries that form the basis for the intellectual and formal aspects of the project. A conceptual structure is often derived from transformational mapping studies of a site
and localized contextual influences such as sounds, weather, climate, social forces, circulation systems, traditions, historical influences, and spatial systems among others.
(4)Tectonics are the elements that form the architectural system within which the soundscape occurs. The tectonic elements are arranged in a conceptual structure derived from relationships among the elements in a pattern or system that can be mapped in its physical or metaphysical dimensions. The tectonics are those elements that give a unique identity and form to a place.
(5) Details are the local connections among the tectonic elements that support and express the inspiration and the conceptual structure of the project. The details are also the elements that often provide weather protection; connections among structural and enclosure systems; and elements that allow for sonic and other environmental flows in indoor environments.
Seven Elements of Soundscape Theory
Siebein (2013a) also identified seven elements in architectural soundscapes that can be applied to twenty- first-century libraries and the multitude of sonic activities that occur within them.
(1)An acoustical community is a group of people linked by the importance of the communication they exchange, such as individuals, groups of students or people of all ages, ethnicities, abilities,
Volume 16, issue 4 | Winter 2020 • Acoustics Today 57

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