I went into two very strange room today at work. I work in a university and my boss thought it would be good to show us what's just down the corridor... an anechoic room.
The whole room is lined with big wedges of acoustic foam, the floor is suspended over the same, and this makes the room acoustically dead. I'm probably not the best person to explain it (!) but it was an amazing experience. When the door is closed all the sounds from the outside world are closed off. Any sound you do make, such as a clap, dissapears completely straight away, I think it's the closest I've ever been, and will ever come, to complete silence. Amazing.
The next room was a reverbaration room. The opposite of anechoic, this room is big with high celing and hard tiled floor. All the walls are at slightly odd angles, the celing slants and hung in the air are curved wooden boards. The room is designed to reverbarate any sound made in there. A clap lasts for over 5 seconds, and when I closed my eyes it felt like I was in a room 10 times the size, in fact my boss informed us that the room had the same level of reverberation as St Paul's Cathedal.
it made me think about how sound affects the way we see the space we're in. How it informs us of where we are, and that we take for granted the things our ears tell us. I think it's amazing how our ears absorb the sounds around us, and put together a picture of our surroundings. I suppose I've never really thought about it before, as I'm such a visual person, I don't really notice acoustics, but seeing (hearing!) such extremes has really made an impression on me.
Acostic revelations aside, the rooms looked pretty cool too! I have a bit of a crindgy phobia of that acoustic foam stuff (my boyfriend has a studio and I've never been able to touch the stuff...) but all those wedges did look good in the anechoic room, very Bridget Riley. And the reverberation room had a completly different feel, airy and open and those curved pieces of wood floating in the air. Sculptural. The rooms seemed to suit the sounds they held, I wonder if it could be any other way?
Who'd have thought all this was just down the corridor...