Acoustical Factors in Auditorium Design

ABSTRACT
The audible attributes of performance spaces are ingrained in the fabric of human culture. Prehistorically, we can see this
from the Gothic cathedrals, the classical Greek open-air theatres and in music production. By examining the way in which
sound reacts to performance spaces, architects can design spaces that enhance auditory comfort.
The author set out to investigate the critical factors influencing acoustical design in large auditoria and how these factors
have been implemented in the local scene using case studies in Nairobi as a reference point.
Through the review of several literature material, the author established 8 factors influencing acoustical design in auditoria
namely; (a) volume of room, (b) shape of room, (c) platform design, (d) reverberation time, (e) ceiling design, (f) balcony
design, (g) floor rake, seating layout and sightlines, and (h) materials. A study of each of these factors enabled the author to
come up with guidelines which were used to analyse three local case studies.
The research brought to the author’s realisation that reverberation time was a constant which is highly dependent on the
use and requirements of the space. It is also the proven quantifying factor for measuring the acoustical appropriateness
of a space to its intended use. Therefore, with reverberation time being the constant quantifiable measure, all the other 7
factors are to be appropriately adjusted to ensure a desired reverberation time is reached. Approaches towards adjusting
these factors to reach a desirable reverberation time have been herein documented. As Kenya moves towards its vision 2030
goals, the information provided in this thesis can help in designing performing spaces with high quality acoustics for the youth
and artists to ensure the country becomes a worldwide destination for music and film production.

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