They’re often called in for big projects like theatres, but acoustic consultants are getting the silent treatment when it comes to residential developments
Acoustic consultants advise on all aspects of sound in construction – from checking that noise from a building falls within legal limits, to assessing how architectural features impact what is heard inside.
They are in high demand for big projects like auditoriums and theatres, where there is an obvious need for good sound quality. But some acoustic consultants complain that things are quieter when it comes to smaller projects and residential developments.
Thomas Bailess, a mechanical engineer and an acoustician at the acoustics firm PMK International, said the discipline is often overlooked when it comes to smaller buildings.
“For a large, important building, they would generally get an acoustician on board. For smaller buildings, people think they don’t need them,” he said.
Bailess has worked on projects such as the Charles W Eisemann Centre, a performing arts space in Texas in the United States. But he said there was a need to consider acoustics even when it comes to smaller spaces.
“Without an acoustic consultant, you are leaving the sound quality to chance,” he said.
Vinayan Nambiar, an acoustic consultant and project director at the UAE-based Moov Group, which specialises in the field, also said such services are sometimes ignored by the construction business.
“Sometimes acoustics are neglected,” Nambiar said, although he added that there are signs that there is increasing recognition of his profession.
Sarah Huskie, the head of acoustics at the professional services firm WSP in the Middle East, said advising on big projects like theatres often attracts higher fees.
“Consultancy for an auditorium is much more complex and involved than for other buildings as every detail is critical in ensuring excellent acoustics and detailed computer models are typically created to assess the space,” she said in an interview with Middle East Consultant. “For this reason our fees are typically much higher than for other types of building.”