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Soundscapes for learning: Designing audio for education

Young children working at desks in a school classroom

As architects and real estate professionals, your blueprint for an educational space can significantly impact learning, health, and overall wellbeing. This approach goes beyond mere aesthetics; it’s about understanding and designing for sound in spaces too. Let’s explore the potential for biophilic soundscaping in schools and universities.

A catalyst for better learning

Imagine a classroom that not only imparts knowledge but also enriches the sensory experience, fostering a deeper connection to the subject matter. A study illustrated this by adding African rainforest sounds to a gorilla exhibition, which led to a notable increase in visitor learning and emotional responses. When we transpose this to an educational setting, the possibilities for enhanced learning environments are clear.

Promoting mindfulness and active listening

In the cacophony and stress of daily life, mindfulness exercises offer a moment of calm for students and staff alike. Biophilic soundscapes initiate this mental respite. Even a simple question – “What sounds can you hear?” – can transport students to different locales, enriching their imagination and enhancing focus.

Improving health and wellbeing

The influence of nature sounds on health and wellbeing is profound. By integrating biophilic soundscapes into educational environments, we can cultivate a sense of tranquility among students and educators, potentially reducing stress and creating a more harmonious learning atmosphere.

Boosting creativity and productivity

The impact of natural sounds on creativity is not just theoretical. Research shows that biophilic sounds can improve people's performance on creative, focus and collaboration tasks. In schools specifically, an art classroom in Saudi Arabia, filled with the melodic chorus of birds and the rhythmic cadence of waves, witnessed a significant leap in creativity and art grades.

Addressing noise-related problems

The detriments of noise pollution on performance are well-documented. Excessive noise can impair cognitive abilities equivalent to aging by three years. Crafting soundscapes that mask distractions, using the benficial sounds of nature, can allow young minds flourish.

Creating inclusive spaces

For students who are sensitive to sensory stimulation, the typical school environment can be a minefield of distractions and discomforts. Biophilic soundscaping can  mitigate disruptive noises, creating safer sensory spaces.

As we design and manage the educational spaces of the future, the inclusion of biophilic soundscaping can nurture the next generation. It's an opportunity to transform schools and universities into sanctuaries of learning, with creating sensory environments for different ways of learning.

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