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How to Reduce Noise in Hospitals with Acoustic Design? [Case Study]


2020 was a year where the healthcare industry was in the spotlight for many reasons. During that time, Delhom Acoustics team helped to reduce noise in hospitals with acoustic design. One of the key projects we’d like to share with you: a massive 325,000m2 Central Hospital in Tangshan China.

Thanks to its attention to detail and focus on patient wellbeing, the Tangshan Central Hospital was awarded the 2020 China Medical Architectural Design – Outstanding Project of the Year by the Fifth China Hospital Construction Ingenuity Awards.

This case study will take you through the project’s different acoustic aspects and show you how a well-thought acoustic design can help create a space for patient recovery to thrive in. 

Tangshan Hospital's main lobby with acoustic treatments

Tangshan Hospital’s main lobby with acoustic treatments to control noise propagation during high occupancy. 

1. The Importance of Noise Control in Hospitals 

The local hospital in Tangshan looked to build a new complex to accommodate a larger number of patients while creating a better environment for their recovery. 

Their aim was to become a colossal project with 2,000 beds for a yearly capacity of 90,000 inpatients and an astounding 3,000,000 outpatients. However, if not designed properly from the beginning if the project, it could quickly become difficult to manage in terms of noise levels.

It is well known that hospitals are a naturally anxiety-inducing environment. When patients come in for treatment, it can be quite nerve-wracking as soon as they enter the facility. It doesn’t make matters easier when these environments are noisy. This can be cause by people talking, walking, phones ringing, machines humming and beeping, staff running around, emergencies calling, etc.  

Therefore, a good control of these noise sources is vital to help visitors remain calm and feel safe in a cocoon of life.  

Additionally, studies show that there are many benefits from controlling noise in hospitals, such as: 

  • Increased confidentiality and comfort
  • Lower staff turnover, fatigue, and stress 
  • Higher customer & staff satisfaction rates 
  • Improved patient recovery times 
  • Reduced medical and communication errors 

When AIA Life Designers, the architects & interior designers of the project, reached out to us about this, we knew that we could make a real difference when it comes to acoustics in healthcare facilities. 

AIA knows that the interior environment is a key aspect for the success of a medical center. For them, the acoustics play a crucial role to create a calm atmosphere for a space that is usually considered busy, loud and stressful. 

Together with Hai YANG from AIA, we brought the idea of acoustic comfort to the director of the Tangshan Central Hospital project. Needless to say, he loved the idea of using acoustics as one of the pillars of patient well-being. According to him, noise is one of the most common issues that hospitals are facing. He became determined to create real acoustic comfort for patients and for staff who are working in a high-pressure environment.  

Intergrated acoustics in the main lobby design

The +40,000m3 main lobby integrates acoustic solutions seamlessly in its design. 

2. Hospital Design: The Challenges along the Way 

The main part of our work was to make sure noise levels would not escalate out of control in public areas. This includes the inpatient, outpatient and emergency lobbies, waiting areas, infusion hall, pediatric wing, large corridors and the canteen. The meeting and conference halls were also under our scope. We offered a more “typical” acoustic design for these areas such as speech intelligibility optimization and reverberation control.  

As this hospital was designed to reflect its large accommodation capacity in its architecture, lobbies of over 40,000m3 welcome visitors. In particular, the main lobby which was dedicated to outpatients, sized up to over 300 meters long and five stories high.  

These large volume areas are naturally an acoustic challenge as noise propagates over long distances. When there are many people inside, noise sources become amplified while background noise increases to an uncomfortable level.  

To add to the challenge, the acoustic solutions had to blend into the interior design aesthetics for the space to sound as good as it looks. 

In order to undertake these important tasks, our team created 3D acoustic models for each space, to carry out numerous simulations. This helped find out which combination of solutions were optimal for both the acoustic and visual challenge.  

Working with AIA Life Designers on this landmark project was a great mix of teamwork and out-of-the-box brainstorming. Here are their thoughts on integrating Delhom Acoustics design into their architecture:

“Working closely with Delhom Acoustics who provided their acoustic engineering services enabled us to create a hospital that harbors true comfort & improves recovery times for patients. Their innovative approach to acoustic design helped the final aesthetics stay true to our initial design intentions.Xin HUANG, Associate & Managing Director at AIA Life Designers

Conference hall's with acoustic treatments

The conference hall’s optimized reverberation times offers perfect speech intelligibility for successful conferences.

3. Conclusion

This project has been a great opportunity for Delhom Acoustics to make an impact on the healthcare sector in China. Staff and patients will be sure to be surrounded by a comfortable environment made entirely for a serene healing process. 

By controlling noise, Tangshan Central Hospital’s commitment to create a healing environment hasn’t gone unnoticed. We are proud to be part of a team whose creativity and innovation was recognized across the country.  

We thank AIA Life Designers for their professionalism and eagerness to incorporate acoustics in their project. This was an amazing chance for us to go deeper into the intricacies of interior design and acoustics in large volume spaces. 

If you enjoyed this article, have a look at how this surgery center in Europe offered surgeons the highest level of concentration thanks to our acoustic design!  

All images © AIA Life Designers