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Turning a deaf ear to the sounds of architecture

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The archaeologist Aaron Watson and acoustics expert David Keating, (BBC2's Sounds from the past) have proven that sound has been integral to architecture of the ancients. Alongside this they have proved the effects of infra sound have a detrimental effect on one's health. Will this mean the building regs. and designers will take these health issues into consideration? The style of building work in the past 20 years has cared less for our holistic well-being and focused upon seducing our eyes. These great glass and steel structures have become massive tympanums accompanied by heating and ventilation systems, creating a resonant symphony of sound waves at less than 20 hertz (those unnoticed frequencies at which the medical profession has recognised a detrimental effect on our well-being).

These sounds do not have to pass through our ears to have a detrimental effect because of their low wavelength. They just pass right through the skin to shake the bones. An example is the Sainsbury Centre, due to the resonance of the air conditioning. I also believe the Willis Faber building is pumped with pink noise to conceal these wavelengths; similarly the History Faculty Library at Cambridge was condemned for its acoustic deafness.

You might think Foster and Partners, as the leading architect in the UK, might address this issue. Especially since the scene of this careless approach to acoustics resonates across the Thames for everyone to see.

Thank God they haven't designed any love hotels. It would surely turn out to be a cacophonous sex machine!

Malcolm Dickson, by e-mail

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