Design Brief: Utilize a variety of research methods to determine a problem within our building, Margaret Morrison, and design an intervention, or series of interventions, to implement in the building.
Team members: Annalisa Pao and Caroline Song
Course: Design Lab, Spring 2019
After some preliminary research, my team decided to zone in on sound control in the building, specifically in the back entrance hallway where large amounts of noise collect throughout the day. For the research component of the project, we created a 3D data visualization showing sound distribution on three floors of the building. We then designed a set of short term interventions, followed by a long term sound meter, all of which we prototyped in order to conduct user testing. The final deliverable was a poster summarizing the entire process from data collection to our interventions.
Part 1: Data Collection and Visualization
Our preliminary research on sound in Margaret Morrison consisted of quantitative sound data, interviews, and qualitative observations. Over the course of two weeks, we gathered sound recordings for twenty minute intervals at various points of the day on three floors, observed the types of noise occurring, and conducted six interviews with both students and faculty affected by the noise levels in the building.
We then summarized the results of our research through a topographic floor plan, in which the highest points are the loudest spots of the floor and the colors represent the types of noise present (classes/constant noise, people gathering or passing by, and sharp/fleeting sounds).
Part 2: Interventions
Problem: Based on the research we conducted, we situated the problem within the first floor back entrance hallway. Both the quantitative and qualitative data collected showed that this area of the building was particularly dense in the number of classes and foot traffic, causing a cluster of noise that could be very distracting to the classes in session.
After determining the problem area, we came up with a variety of intervention points centered around noise control. We decided to stray away from traditional soundproofing techniques since they would not be feasible within our time and cost constraints. Thus, our approach was more human centered, focusing on how we could encourage people passing by or gathering in the hallways to be more mindful of their noise levels.
We prototyped two very simple, short term interventions (illustrated below) before developing our more finalized intervention. First, signage indicating to people that they were passing through classes in session, and second, carpeting along the floors to help diffuse the noise of people passing by.
After seeing that the signage was not effective and that carpeting would only muffle footsteps, we decided that we needed a more interactive solution in order to get people's attention. Thus, we modeled our final intervention off of a sound meter that was proposed at St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem to control noise levels in the hospital hallways. However, unlike the hospital model which was a green light/ red light system, we designed an interactive sound meter displaying live sound waves as people pass by, indicating an appropriate noise level to maintain.
We tested this intervention using a projector and conducting interviews with people passing through. The intervention received mostly positive feedback from the subjects we interviewed, but with more time and resources, we would implement a more high-tech meter in order to observe the effects firsthand.
Below is the digital prototype of the sound meter.
Part 3: Final Poster
Below is the final poster we designed to communicate the steps we took in both our research and the design of our intervention.