The University of Southampton

FEEG6011 Architectural and Building Acoustics

Module Overview

The transmission of sound within buildings plays a vital role in architectural design that should be taken account of at an early stage. The module covers two main areas: (i) building acoustics, that is the effects of the materials and overall design of buildings on the transmission of sound within the building and the acoustic suitability of the rooms for their purpose; (ii) auditorium design, that is the specific acoustic design of large rooms intended for concerts, theatre or as lecture rooms. These two areas have some commonality, particularly the reverberance, but also some aspects that are more important in one area than the other. The module has been designed in collaboration with industryleaders Arup and provides hands-on experience of advanced measurement and prediction methods.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- Apply noise control principles to the acoustics of buildings. - Provide an introduction to the acoustic design of auditoria.

Learning Outcomes

Disciplinary Specific Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand standard measurement methods that are used in building acoustics.
  • Apply prediction methods to assess the transmission of noise in buildings and its mitigation.
  • Apply prediction methods to assess the reverberation of sound in rooms.
  • Select appropriate building constructions for the solution of practical noise problems and evaluate their performance
  • Make basic room acoustic measurements and determine the various indicators used for auditorium acoustics
  • Use room acoustics software to model simple auditoria


Building acoustics: - Legal framework: building regulations, particular requirements for schools and hospitals. - Sound insulation (laboratory tests, in-situ tests, single number ratings Rw and Dw, typical building constructions). - Absorption and reverberation time (Sabine and Eyring models, air absorption, typical absorption spectra, requirements for different purposes). - Background noise criteria (NR, PNC, STI); sources of external noise (rain noise, traffic, etc); sources of noise within buildings (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning noise sources; fans; boilers; chillers; packaged units). - Vibration isolation (of noisy equipment, of buildings); ground-borne noise from underground railways. - Laboratory sessions: measurement of sound insulation; measurement of sound absorption. Auditorium acoustics: - Subjective and objective requirements for different rooms (concert halls, theatres, opera houses, multi-purpose halls). - Reverberation (T20, T30, EDT); other indicators (clarity C80, D50, lateral energy fraction, sound strength). - Absorption of seats, audience, other materials, variable absorption. - Scattering and diffusion. - Measurement of impulse responses; determination of room acoustic parameters from the IR. - Sound source characteristics (musical instruments, speech, singing; sound power, directivity). - Prediction methods (image sources, ray tracing, beam/cone tracing, finite differences, modal methods, physical scale modelling). - Public address system design for buildings and auditoria. - Laboratory sessions: measurement of room impulse responses; use of CATT-Acoustic to predict room acoustics. Optional introductory sessions will be provided for students with no background in acoustics.

Special Features

- Guest lectures by practicing auditorium designers. - Practical activity measuring the acoustic performance of an auditorium.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This is a one-semester course, normally three lectures per week. Detailed lecture notes are provided and one-to-one assistance and verbal feedback is facilitated through laboratory and tutorial classes. Three laboratories are included: sound transmission, sound absorption and room impulse responses. In addition, training is given on the use of CATT-Acoustic software for room acoustic prediction. Blackboard is used to allow the lectures and additional material to be disseminated. Students are encouraged to read supporting texts and a booklist is provided. Visiting lectures from Arup Acoustics staff are included covering practical aspects of building acoustics and auditorium design.

Wider reading or practice26
Completion of assessment task70
Follow-up work15
Practical classes and workshops9
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

T.J. Cox and P. D'Antonio (2009). Acoustic Absorbers and Diffusers. 

T.E. Vigran (2008). Building Acoustics. 

M. Barron (2009). Auditorium acoustics and architectural design. 

C. Hopkins, Sound Insulation (2008). Theory into Practice. 

Software. CATT-Acoustic, INSUL, ZORBA andMatlab software is available on university workstations.


Assessment Strategy



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 50%
Assignment 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 50%
Assignment 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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