Research has shown that noise masking systems can successfully mitigate the detrimental effects of noise in open-plan offices. This paper provides a new approach to noise masking in open-plan offices, through the use of water sounds generated by real water features placed inside a work space. The effectiveness of water sounds in masking noise, especially irrelevant speech, has been extensively examined in previous laboratory experiments. The current paper builds upon the findings achieved so far, by extending the study into real-life settings. A water feature, designed in accordance with preference findings obtained previously, was installed in a medium sized open-plan office (12 workstations). A satisfaction questionnaire (focusing on the soundscape) was distributed prior to the installation of the water feature, to assess the work environment in the absence of any noise masking system. Then, another satisfaction questionnaire was distributed, after the water feature had remained in the office for a period of 3 weeks. The results obtained from both questionnaires suggest that the water feature had a positive effect on the soundscape assessment of the open-plan office, as shown by an increased level of subjective satisfaction that confirms laboratory findings. According to these empirical results, carefully designed water features could substitute conventional noise masking systems, with the added benefits of being affordable and contributing to an increase in the aesthetic value of the space.
|Title of host publication||Proceedings of 33rd PLEA International Conference|
|Subtitle of host publication||Design to thrive|
|Editors||Luisa Brotas, Susan Roaf, Fergus Nicol|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Jul 2017|
|Event||33rd International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture: Design to Thrive : Design to thrive - Edinburgh, United Kingdom|
Duration: 2 Jul 2017 → 5 Jul 2017
|Conference||33rd International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture: Design to Thrive|
|Abbreviated title||PLEA 2017|
|Period||2/07/17 → 5/07/17|
Abdalrahman, Z., & Galbrun, L. (2017). Soundscape assessment of a water feature used in an open-plan office. In L. Brotas, S. Roaf, & F. Nicol (Eds.), Proceedings of 33rd PLEA International Conference: Design to thrive (Vol. 3).  NCEUB.