Ex­pe­ri­en­tial hos­pi­tal­ity

HN in­ves­ti­gates the ef­fects that the in­tro­duc­tion of nat­u­ral sounds and con­tex­tu­ally log­i­cal es­thet­i­cal el­e­ments in pri­vate and pub­lic spa­ces has on el­e­vat­ing the out­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to another level

Hospitality News Middle East - - CONTENTS -

New struc­tures of vary­ing sizes are ap­pear­ing reg­u­larly at a fast pace world­wide. While the de­signs dif­fer, depend­ing on sev­eral ba­sic pa­ram­e­ters, one con­sid­er­a­tion is in­creas­ingly be­ing fac­tored into that equa­tion, and nowhere has this be­come more ev­i­dent than in the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor. This ad­di­tional layer, which comes un­der the la­bel of ‘ex­pe­ri­en­tial ar­chi­tec­ture’, is called ‘sound­scap­ing’. In con­trast to land­scap­ing, which fo­cuses on es­thet­ics, this lat­est con­cept, as ex­pected, puts the em­pha­sis on sound. The pri­or­ity, how­ever, is to in­cor­po­rate sound into ex­ter­nal/in­ter­nal spa­ces, while keep­ing the hard­ware in­vis­i­ble. While the idea might sound (no pun in­tended) straight­for­ward, it can nonethe­less present chal­lenges.

HN talked to acous­ti­cal engi­neer Tom Schindler PE, se­nior vice pres­i­dent at Charles M. Sal­ter As­so­ciates Inc., a San Francisco-based con­sult­ing firm founded in 1975 with an av­er­age of 900 an­nual pro­jects through­out the world, to find out more.

Why has ‘sound­scap­ing’ be­come so im­por­tant to­day?

The con­nec­tion to the nat­u­ral world can be ben­e­fi­cial to the health and pro­duc­tiv­ity of peo­ple who, since the in­dus­trial age, have be­come more iso­lated from the con­struc­tive stim­uli the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment of­fers. Mod­ern sus­tain­able build­ing de­sign has given pri­or­i­ties to nat­u­ral light/ven­ti­la­tion, views to the ex­te­rior and in some de­sign es­thet­ics, vis­ual earth-tone col­ors and plant­ings.

The ad­di­tion of one as­pect of the nat­u­ral world, is only now catch­ing up with th­ese longer-adopted el­e­ments, namely nat­u­ral sounds, re­ferred to as ‘sound­scape’. It is the au­ral match­ing el­e­ment to the vis­ual con­tri­bu­tion of land­scapes. Th­ese can be very valu­able in their con­tri­bu­tion to a hos­pi­tal­ity pa­tron’s over­all ex­pe­ri­ence.

What are some of the main chal­lenges?

Since it is im­prac­ti­cal to bring all of na­ture’s ac­tual sound sources into the in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment (run­ning wa­ter is pos­si­ble but ex­pen­sive, an­i­mals prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble), the sound­scape de­signer is tasked with cre­at­ing an at least semi­con­scious ‘sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief’ with re­gard to nat­u­ral sounds. To achieve this the fol­low­ing must be con­sid­ered:

Vis­ual con­ceal­ment: an ob­vi­ous clue that au­di­ble nat­u­ral sounds are not gen­uine is the sight of the loud­speak­ers pro­duc­ing th­ese. Us­ing var­i­ous types of vis­ually oc­clud­ing, but acous­ti­cally per­me­able fin­ishes, the sound­scape sys­tem de­signer and ar­chi­tect can cre­ate the ba­sis for sounds that can seem to come from ev­ery­where and nowhere; an en­vel­op­ment.

Sonic fidelity: sound qual­ity is another very im­por­tant fac­tor. The ex­tent and even­ness of the sound­scape sys­tems fre­quency re­sponse, lack of au­di­ble dis­tor­tion and noise are a must. The sys­tem should faith­fully re­pro­duce the high­est-fre­quency con­tent of bird-chirps, as well as lower fre­quen­cies as­so­ci­ated with higher-vol­ume run­ning wa­ter and/or wind through the trees. Con­tent: by na­ture’s na­ture, events and their cor­re­spond­ing sounds are essen­tially ran­dom in terms of lo­ca­tion (within the lis­ten­ing space) and tim­ing. Other fac­tors, such as in­tended lo­ca­tion type (e.g. for­est, marsh, creek-side, etc.), and im­plied time of day and/or sea­son, are more pre­dictable. At the ex­treme, sam­ples of nat­u­ral sounds (both tran­sient, such as a bird call, as well as more con­tin­u­ous, such as run­ning wa­ter) could be gen­er­ated us­ing an al­go­rithm that cre­ates semi-ran­dom se­quences.

Vis­ual syn­chronic­ity: if the sounds of the for­est are in­tro­duced into a space with a clean, white, flat, rec­ti­lin­ear vis­ual aes­thetic, de­void of any nat­u­ral vis­ual el­e­ments, the ef­fect would most likely be com­i­cal at best and jar­ring at worst. The vis­ual and au­ral el­e­ments must com­bine in a con­vinc­ing way to cre­ate a be­liev­able pre­sen­ta­tion.

Bring­ing the out­side world into the in­te­rior built en­vi­ron­ment can have real value across the board that many hos­pi­tal­ity cus­tomers are of­ten seek­ing. Cur­rent tech­nol­ogy and in­creased aware­ness on the part of de­sign­ers, hos­pi­tal­ity de­vel­op­ers and op­er­a­tors greatly value from cre­at­ing this en­vi­ron­ment that of­fers some bound­less op­por­tu­ni­ties for a new level of ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Sage Par­lour in Mar Mikhael, Le­banon de­signed by Del­phine Ge­bran

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