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Home as a place of rest and work: the ideal indoor soundscape during the COVID-19 pandemic

woman sits in the window working on laptop

24 September 2020

Key facts

  • Funding Body/Client: CIBSE
  • Project Partners: Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento and Institute for Renewable Energy, Eurac Research
  • Start date: 2020
  • Status: Active

Due to the COVID outbreak and consequent lockdown situation, home is being experienced as both a place of rest and work. With the purpose of investigating how the acoustic environment and building features affect people’s quality of life and work, an online survey will be developed and administered in two countries, UK and Italy, representing different climatic zones and ventilation habits. The questionnaire would employ closed and open-format questions to be coupled with qualitative analyses and soundscape measurement tools in order to i) get insights into how the stay-home period has changed the acoustic experience at home, ii) inform about people’s expectations in terms of their ideal indoor soundscape while relaxing and working at home, and iii) highlight cross-cultural differences between UK and Italy. Lessons learned from this lockdown situation would inform about actions to improve the built environment in order to provide high-quality living (and working) home environments beyond this COVID-19 pandemic.

Background

With the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent stay-at-home mandates around the world, many people are spending almost 100% of their time at home, which has become a place for resting, working, and looking after family. Consequently, the quality of the home built environment is even more important today for the health and well-being of its occupants. Notably, in the context of IEQ, acoustic comfort is the one on which people have little control (e.g., community noise from outdoor, neighbors, etc.), compared to other environmental factors (e.g., thermal, ventilation), thus being worth focusing on. By adopting a perceptual viewpoint, soundscape research [1] brings a new approach to acoustic comfort research finalized to reduce the negative impacts of noise and to exploit the positive impacts of sounds for the design of positively perceived indoor built environments [2].

People
Output
  • get insights into how the stay-home period has changed the acoustic experience at home,
  • inform about people’s expectations in terms of their ideal indoor soundscape while relaxing and working at home, and
  • highlight cross-cultural differences between UK and Italy.
Impact

The project is intended to (a) get insights into how the lockdown situation has changed the acoustic experience at home, (b) inform about people’s expectations in terms of their ideal indoor soundscape to support their relaxing and working activities at home, and (c) highlight cross-cultural differences between UK and Italy. The work will lead to a scientific publication and content to be made available to the CIBSE community.

Research need 

Current emergency situation offers the opportunity to investigate how the acoustic environment and building features affects people’s stay-home period with reference to the traditional and new (future) needs that the house is called to fulfill. For this reason, an online survey will be developed and administered to participants who would typically spend most of their day working at an office desk but are currently working at home due to the COVID outbreak. The survey will be administered in two countries, UK and Italy, representing different climatic zones and ventilation habits.


Photo by Catharina Short Sundberg, Unplash