Aural related implications of the open place office
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The open plan office is now a standard design approach for new and retrofitted commercial buildings. The open work environment is considered to improve communication and collaboration between colleagues, facilitating more efficient and faster responsiveness and decision making. The removal of walls in open plan offices allows for an increase in the density of occupants and is also advantageous in aiding effective air distribution. However, research has shown that the benefits of improved access to colleagues can be overshadowed by the impact of increased noise, visual related disturbances and a loss of privacy. This paper reports on a post occupancy evaluation of a number of commercial office buildings (Green Star rated and non-rated buildings) in Adelaide, South Australia, focusing on acoustic privacy in the buildings as perceived by the occupants. The evaluation found that occupants in the Green Star rated buildings had a decreased satisfaction when compared to the occupants in the non-rated buildings particularly in relation to their perceptions of noise overall, noise generated from within and outside of the building, the frequency of unwanted interruptions and also privacy. Occupants expressed concern that these factors were affecting their overall comfort, productivity and health. The similarities and differences between the buildings and their occupants will be discussed. Through identifying and learning from the aspects impacting on aural comfort, we can change our approach to the design of work places and improve the built environment.
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