Whilst a superficial consideration of modern house design often may lead to the conclusion that external sound is simply something to be shut out, minimised and in a perfect world eradicated, in reality this is a more complex design consideration. Sound can tie us to our surroundings, sooth us or excite us, an absence of sound can be as unsettling as a surfeit of it. There is a balance that we must strike.

The soothing sounds of rain-fall or bird song are of now value if drowned out by the constant hum of a nearby motorway or over-flying aircraft.

The major sources of sound pollution are road traffic, aircraft and industrial noise. Where sound is elevated above acceptable levels (and what is acceptable varies by individuals) then stress, increased accident rates, and higher levels of aggressive and anti-social behaviour are the consequences.

How can we reduce sound pollution?
There are two main ways to reduce sound pollution: mass of material and effective insulation. Simply put thick walls and floor will dampen sound and reduce the levels of pollution whilst modern technology brings us soundproofing and sound insulation products from which to construct walls and floors. Double and triple glazing is effective in reducing not only the egress of heat, but also the ingress of unwanted sound.

But let’s not forget the positive aspects of noise. Music provides a person with a happy euphoria. Natural sounds such as those of running water and wind in trees have been demonstrated to improve mood and enhance relationships.

The balance between positive and negative aspects of the total noise picture within, and especially around a building must be correctly struck to maximise any positive influences whilst minimising noise pollution.