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Open-plan session – Forum Acusticum 2011


This very popular session was co-chaired by Valteri Hongisto and J.y.Jeon.

I caught up with Erling Nilsson to discuss an overview of the session after reading his paper. The session consisted of 5 papers, 2 of which were invited papers. 3 of the papers concerned the evaluation of the acoustics and measures related to sound propagation in open plan offices. In particular measures related to sound distribution curves; DL2, DLf & LpA,S,4m.
The 4th paper focused on full scale office in labratory conditions investigating the effect of screen heights, workplace locations and background and masking noise.
The final paper was actually a field investigation of an open-plan school in Iceland

During the session there was a clear concensus of the usefulness using parameters related to sound propagation which are also suggested in the new ISO 3383-3 draft. It was quite clear that the open plan offices are challenging environments and a successful acoustic design is a combination of; building acoustic and interior design issues, planning of the organisational workplace for the activities and use of space, whilst considering management and behaviour.
Open-plan offices are complex environments and simple theoretical modelling is not straight forward, so the use of simulation (ray-tracing) software was quite promising as a way to potetential future analysis in the design process – even though there are other issues in the simulation process which have to be solved concerning angle dependant absorption and defraction.
Generally discussions concerned the overall acoustic behaviour characterised by these sound propagation measures however the acoustical conditions between nearby individual workplaces which is very important for helpdesk activities and was described in one paper by J.Keränen et al. This paper focused on ceiling, wall, and screen absorption as well as screen height, work station and masking noise in a laboratory environment situation.
The final paper in this session highlighted that open-plan spaces is not only restricted to offices but increasingly growing in schools which a field case study presented from Iceland. Similar to offices, the consideration of different activities, their planning and timetabling was important for these premises to work in reality as well as the overall acoustic considerations.
5 papers discussed are listed below ;
Acoustic parameters for the evaluation of open-plan offices.
Erling Nilsson, Ecophon, Sweden.
Acoustic methods in open-plan offices.
Claus-Moller Petersen, Gontmij, Denmark.
Architectural influences on speech privacy in computer simulated open-plan offices.
B.K.Lee, P.J.Lee and J.Y.Leon, Hanyang University, Republic of Korea.
Speech privacy in an open-plan office with different room acoustic conditions.
J.Keränen , J Hakala, D.Olivia and Valteri Hongisto, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
Acoustics in an open-plan elementary school.
H.K. Juliusson, Verkis Consulting Engineers, Iceland.

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