Redefining Meeting Spaces
Article by Ryan Malcolm
by Prof. Jane Burry
The FabPod II, currently under development by researchers in the Centre for Design Innovation’s Architecture and Habitat sector, looks to build on the success of the original FabPod I, constructed at RMIT University, which developed an intricate method of managing speech privacy in open work areas through the combination of architectural geometry and materials. The built (and used) prototypes are a vehicle for research into the vexed issue of speech privacy for meetings in open work areas, and part of a research project to investigate both privacy and speech intelligibility. A combination of absorption, reflection and scattering in the interior contributes to social vibrancy, an even sound distribution and extreme clarity on the interior. Similar moves cut sound transmission to the outside, despite the Pod’s semi-open architecture (no ceiling or door). The intricacy and custom variation of the geometry/material combination across the pod is achievable through novel approaches to cutting edge digital fabrication.
FabPod I provided an excellent enduring test bed for social and sound measurement experiments to build knowledge about its performance and to calibrate digital simulation techniques against physical measurement. PhD researcher and architect Pantea Alambeigi was able to extrapolate the simulation experiments to generate new fundamental knowledge about pod shape and sound behavior, which when applied to the design of FabPod II, has produced an even more acoustically tailored solution, that nevertheless also breaks new ground in digital fabrication and takes greater account of the constraints of manufacturability and cost.
The final product, an equally custom, non-standard space and object to FabPod I, will be finalized for application and testing in a commercial setting during 2018, promising to be a significantly innovative step in the realms of sound design and speech optimization.