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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Design criteria for the acoustical environment in open plan offices Matić, Vojislava


The concept of open planned office space is becoming more and more popular. However, there is a serious problem associated with this concept, that being the attainment of speech privacy. Since speech privacy is a very important issue for some types of office work the main objective of this thesis is to study the acoustic requirements of the open plan office. In order to improve office working conditions, it was decided to correlate existing theoretical findings on general office noise and screen/ceiling acoustical performance with actual situations from seven office layout samples taken in the Vancouver, B.C., area. Of the people who have been doing research in this specific area, Geiger and Hamme in Ann Arbor, Michigan, appear to be the furthest advanced. The purpose of this thesis is to extend the work of Geiger and Hamme as a contribution to the existing findings of the acoustical characteristics of open plan office space. To achieve the goals of this thesis, the historical background of office buildings, a study of current space requirements and the importance of speech privacy are examined. Further theoretical issues include an explanation of acoustical performance of specific building elements. The objective of this discussion is to expand the data base of a number of acoustical parameters including average sound levels, articulation index and screen/ceiling attenuation values, in order to further develop existing acoustical design criteria. The study concludes that while there is indeed a need for speech privacy in open plan offices, the degree of need varies considerably with the level of confidentiality. The research confirms that the greater the need for speech privacy, the less satisfactory is the open office concept. Further study in this field is clearly indicated and includes further exploration of the following factors: 1. The definition of people's concerns regarding speech privacy. 2. The economic factors and their implications. 3. The establishment of environmental maxims.

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