Design For Speech:a Case Of University Of Nairobi Lecture Theatres
The conditions surrounding the transmission of speech in an enclosed auditorium are complicated, it is true, but are only such as will yield an exact solution in the light of adequate data (Sabine, 1964). Good acoustics in a building are not merely a matter of applying some patent sound absorbent material to walls or ceilings. The design of the buildings – size, shape and volume are all important factors which have a great bearing on the acoustics. Contrary to popular opinion, good architectural acoustics is no accident. The acoustical character of a proposed building can be accurately predicted (Kinzey and Harvard, 1963). Sound is one of the subtlest pieces of nature (Sir Francis, Basic quoted in Hunt, 1992) The ultimate evaluation of acoustical quality lies with the people who listen, speak, play, work, create, live, sleep, and otherwise use the rooms designed and built by those in the construction industry. This evaluation will differ from person to person, from activity to activity, from culture to culture, from one period in history to another, and even from one say to the next with the same person! With increasing number of studies investigating how people hear and what they like to hear when they listen to sounds, particularly speech and musical performances, these studies begin to answer the question; “what do we mean when we say that a room has good acoustics?” (Cremer and Muller, 1982). These are often called studies of subjective qualities of sound. People are used as test subjects to evaluate live or recorded sounds. The general findings of this body of work have been to identify the qualities most people associate with, to confirm that people can hear differences in the acoustical qualities at different seats within a room, to confirm that there are perceived differences to acoustical quality in different room, to isolate and identify some of the factors that contribute to acoustical quality, and to confirm that listening is a complex, multidimensional experience with many significant interactions among variables and difficulties in describing phenomena precisely.
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