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 Figure 7. Sonic niche in twenty-first-century library, the Alfred R. Goldstein Library, Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL (Shepley Bullfinch, Architects). The niche is a much smaller “acoustical space” between the two chairs in the top one-third of the photograph. The photograph shows that the scale of a niche can be intimate compared with the larger size of the main space. The glass wall separates the niche from the large central organizing space. This wall reduces sounds traveling into the niche from other parts of the library. The niche allows for one to read in relative quiet in the middle of an active space or for two people to engage in discussion without acoustically involving the rest of the
large open space.
for the spaces to be fully functional for expanded uses.
using a full palette of soundscape design strategies to achieve suitable results. These could include acoustical collaboration with the architect in each of the five levels of soundscape design: inspiration, planning, conceptual structure, tectonics, and details.
In other words, ideas about how distance, acoustical finishes, furniture, and partial height partitions as well as traditional walls and doors, varying ceiling heights, and finishes can be used to create buffers and filters to reduce sound flows between spaces. Sonic niches can be carved out of larger spaces for selected spaces for individual and special purpose uses within the larger building during the planning stage. Sonic niches become spaces where desired communication and/or sounds are made and relatively contained in the niche area.
As a consequence, the library of today has been transformed into an active and engaging soundscape for all users. What a dynamic, evolving, and challenging building type on which to work that is truly changing the way that cultures study and reflect on themselves. Who would have thought that recording studios, film screenings, rare books, archives, individual or group reading of traditional books, Internet use, community gatherings, fabrication of digital artifacts, classes of various types, and other activities would be a part of the library as it moves into the future.
Societies and cultures are continually redefining the acoustical and architectural identities of the twenty- first-century library. This dynamic situation is pushing acoustical analysis, design, and practice into new areas as possibilities for reconciling what were previously thought to be incompatible activities are understood. This is how soundscape design can become the inspiration for architects, interior designers, and those building libraries who are seeking to push the state-of-the-art in the expansion of thought and inspiration of creativity and to strengthen of the structure of community that are the foundations of healthy and urbane cultures.
Designing the soundscape often involves reducing, References
buffering, and mitigating sounds traveling from one area of the large spaces to another, creating acoustical niches and/or acoustical rooms within a larger room volume (Siebein et al., 2006). Acoustical design of these complex spaces must be fully integrated with architectural design
Sabine, W. C. (1964). Collected Papers on Acoustics. Dover Publications, New York, NY.
Siebein, G. W. (2013a). An exploration of the urban design possibilities offered by soundscape theory. Proceedings of the AESOP/ACSP 5th Joint Congress, Dublin, Ireland, July 15-19, 2013.
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