Hearing is believing

By Anthony Chilton

01 April 2016

Acoustic performance in learning spaces is key to academic progress. If a student can't hear the lecturer, education is more difficult.

For the design of a new teaching building at the University of Nottingham, we have been investigating how to achieve the best acoustic conditions in lecture theatres. Specifically, we've studied how clearly the audience can hear the speaker’s voice. 

The shape of the ceiling plays an important role as it determines how sound is reflected from the speaker to different parts of the audience.  Of course, there must be a ceiling shape that results in the best acoustic design, but finding it can be tricky.

We used a genetic optimisation algorithm to seek out the best acoustic design. Working together with Make Architects, the optimal ceiling shape has been included in the final design. The video below demonstrates our research:


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