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Space in the Space: Designing Sound Environments for the Shared Indoor Workspace
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Media and Design. (KAMAIL iAIL)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7951-2089
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The sound environment in shared indoor workspaces emerges through the interplay of physical layout, materials, technology, and social dynamics. These spaces are designed with specific purposes in mind, taking acoustics into account during construction. However, the true quality of the sound environment can only be assessed when these spaces are actively used. The perception of a shared indoor sound environment is not fixed or absolute but is influenced by individual perceptions, attitudes, and intentions.

A significant challenge in designing shared indoor workspaces is thus to accommodate the diverse preferences of various users in a common area, a task complicated by the subjective experience of sound. Prior research has primarily focused on reducing unwanted noise through physical installations and assessing their effects, with the emphasis of sound environment management being the implementation of broad, global solutions that aim to cater to the majority. However, there has been minimal initiative toward proactively improving these complex environments while acknowledging the subjective and context-dependent nature of sound environments.

This thesis suggests that the sound environment within a workspace ought to be perceived as a socio-technical system, wherein the design of such environments is a complex and 'wicked' problem. By adopting a design approach that introduces prototypes of an ambient sound environment system into the workspace, this study aims to explore whether various adaptations of the sound xi environment using this technical solution can improve perceived sound quality. The research endeavors to examine the practical use of sound as a design element within workplace settings. The study incorporates laboratory research, field tests in four different offices, and interviews with professionals in indoor environment design.

The thesis presents a design program for shared indoor workplace sound environments, emphasizing the creation of pleasant, unnoticeable sound spaces that offer shielding from office disturbances, known as Space in the Space. It employs a 4E cognitive framework and views both sound, technology, and humans as design materials, aiming to craft a personalized and meaningful sound environment that balances noise reduction with qualitative sound aspects, enabling users to tailor their auditory space and collaborate in the design process. This inquiry explores the complex relationship between auditory comfort, personal preferences, and functionality in shared workspaces. The strong concept of 'Sound Users', is introduced as a view that emphasizes the interactive relationship between users and sound environments. Individuals are not just passive receivers of sound; they are active participants, shaping, modifying, and personalizing their auditory surroundings to suit their needs and activities.

The results suggest that the challenge in designing soundscapes for shared indoor spaces involves striking a careful balance. This entails harmonizing individual and collective needs by creating the possibility of a Space in the Space within a collective auditory environment. This is achieved by adhering to individual preferences through offering personalization features and control to the sound users. When presented with options, users often want to customize them and tend to prefer sounds that not only mask unwanted noise but also provide a sense of comfort and pleasure. Their aim goes beyond simple utility, highlighting a pursuit of meaningful sound environments through sounds that are both functional and pleasant.

Abstract [sv]

Ljudmiljön spelar en stor roll för vår upplevelse, vårt beteende och vår hälsa. I arbetsmiljöer där utrymmen delas, som i öppna kontorslandskap, skapas ljudmiljön genom en kombination av rummets design, materialval, tekniska lösningar och den sociala dynamiken. Dessa utrymmen är designade med tanke på verksamhetens behov och funktioner, där ljudmiljön tas i beaktning under planeringsstadiet. Dock blir den verkliga kvaliteten på ljudmiljön tydlig först när utrymmena tas i bruk. Hur en ljudmiljö uppfattas är personligt och varierar mellan individer, baserat på deras egna tolkningar och attityder till platsen samt deras avsikter i den miljön. Därför är utformningen av ljudmiljöer i gemensamma arbetsytor en utmanande uppgift. Det kräver omsorgsfull hänsyn till och uppfyllande av de olika önskemål och behov som medarbetarna kan ha. Detta arbete blir ännu mer komplext på grund av det subjektiva sättet som ljud upplevs på. Den här avhandlingen föreslår att ljudmiljön på en arbetsplats bör ses som ett sociotekniskt system, där en ömsesidig påverkan mellan den byggda platsen, teknik och människors agerande ger upphov till ljudmiljön. Att designa för den här typen av gemensamma ljudmiljöer utgör därför ett så kallat ”wicked problem”. Wicked problems är komplexa, flertydiga problem utan klara lösningar, där varje försök att hitta en lösning påverkar förståelsen av själva problemet.

Tidigare forskning har i stor utsträckning inriktats mot att minska oönskat buller med fysiska lösningar och att bedöma effektiviteten hos dessa åtgärder. Huvudmålet har varit att implementera omfattande, allmängiltiga lösningar som syftar till att tillgodose behoven hos de flesta. Dock har det gjorts begränsade viiiansträngningar för att proaktivt förbättra dessa komplexa miljöer, där fokus har legat på att förhålla sig till ljudmiljöns subjektiva och situationsspecifika karaktär.

Under tre designcykler har avhandlingen undersökt design och implementering av ljudmiljöprototyper på arbetsplatsen. Dessa prototyper skapar lokala och anpassningsbara ljudmiljöer. Genom att studera hur användare upplever och formar dessa ljudmiljöer, undersöks möjligheterna för att förbättra den upplevda ljudkvaliteten. Avhandlingen har också utforskat vilka egenskaper ljud bör ha för att effektivt kunna integreras som en designfunktion på arbetsplatser. Dessa frågeställningar har utforskats genom laboratorieundersökningar, fälttester i fyra olika kontorsmiljöer och intervjuer med experter inom design av inomhusmiljöer.

Avhandlingen presenterar designprogrammet "Space in the Space", med syftet att skapa behagliga, lokala och anpassningsbara ljudmiljöer. Dessa miljöer är inte avsedda för aktivt lyssnande, utan för att erbjuda skydd mot ljudstörningar. Detta genom att stödja användarna att kunna fokusera sin uppmärksamhet på tilltänkta aktiviteter snarare än på irrelevanta omgivningsljud, utan att fullständigt skärma av användaren från den omgivande ljudmiljön. Programmet bygger på det teoretiska ramverket 4E-kognition och använder ljud, teknologi och människor som designmaterial. Målet är att skapa en anpassningsbar och meningsfull ljudmiljö som balanserar brusreducering med kvalitativa ljudaspekter. Designprogrammet undersöker det invecklade sambandet mellan auditiv komfort, personliga preferenser och funktionalitet i gemensamma arbetsutrymmen. En utkomst av detta är utvecklingen av konceptet "Ljudanvändare", vilket betonar en interaktiv relation mellan användare och deras ljudmiljöer. Människor är inte bara passiva ljudmottagare; de är aktiva gestaltare som anpassar och personifierar sitt ljudlandskap för att möta deras specifika behov och aktiviteter.

Resultaten visar att nyckeln till att designa bättre ljudmiljöer för gemensamma kontorsutrymmen ligger i att noggrant balansera individuella och kollektiva behov. Detta uppnås genom att skapa möjligheter för lokala ljudrum inom det större gemensamma ljudutrymmet, vilka kan anpassas efter individuella preferenser genom att ge användarna möjlighet att modifiera och kontrollera sin ljudmiljö. När användare i studien fick denna möjlighet tenderade de att vilja skräddarsy sin ljudmiljö och föredrog ljud som inte bara dämpade oönskat brus, utan som också bidrog med en känsla av komfort och välbefinnande. Deras ambition gick utöver bara praktisk användning och understryker en strävan efter meningsfulla ljudmiljöer som både är funktionella och behagliga.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: University West , 2024. , p. 115
Series
PhD Thesis: University West ; 64
Keywords [en]
Sound Environment Design; 4E Cognition; Research through Design; Design program; Sound Users
Keywords [sv]
Ljudmiljö, utformning, arbetsplats, medarbetare
National Category
Learning Occupational Health and Environmental Health
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-21405ISBN: 978-91-89325-76-0 (print)ISBN: 978-91-89325-75-3 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-21405DiVA, id: diva2:1845226
Public defence
2024-04-12, I106, Gustava Melins gata, Trollhättan, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Paper D and E are under submission and not included in this thesis.

Available from: 2024-03-22 Created: 2024-03-18 Last updated: 2024-03-18
List of papers
1. Designing activity-based and context-sensitive ambient sound environments in open-plan offices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Designing activity-based and context-sensitive ambient sound environments in open-plan offices
2015 (English)In: Proceedings of the 38th Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia (IRIS 38), Oulo, Finland, 9-12 August, 2015. / [ed] Anssi Öörni, Netta Iivari, Kari Kuutti, Harri Oinas-Kukkonen and Mikko Rajanen, 2015Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper address the problem of sound disturbance in open office environments. We have in a design-based research study explored how digital, real time generated sound can be added to a work environment and how these sound environments are perceived by respondents when performing work tasks. Being such a complex situation, we have in this first explorative study chosen to focus on designing a digital sound system for activity-based offices, where the physical environment is already designed for particular activities. Our approach is to explore if workplaces can be enhanced by adding appropriate acoustic designs to the ambient environment. Our results show that test subjects perceived that acoustic design could enhance the ambient environments if the acoustic design is pertinent with the environment as a whole. 

Keywords
Sound environments, activity
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
SOCIAL SCIENCE, Informatics; Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-8842 (URN)
Conference
38th Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia (IRIS 38), Oulo, Finland, 9-12 August, 2015.
Projects
Ljuddesign
Funder
AFA Insurance
Available from: 2015-12-22 Created: 2015-12-22 Last updated: 2024-03-18Bibliographically approved
2. The Sound Bubble: A context-sensitive space in the space
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Sound Bubble: A context-sensitive space in the space
2017 (English)In: Organised Sound, ISSN 1355-7718, E-ISSN 1469-8153, Vol. 22, no 1, p. 130-139Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The design of sonic environments is in need of more active strategies, taking into account not only the physical but also the social and sensorial aspects of a place. This implies abandoning traditional, mono-disciplinary responses in favour of interdisciplinary methods and approaches. In this study we explored the possibility of inserting context-sensitive sound textures to improve the experience of an activity-based office workplace. For this purpose, we developed the concept of the ’sound bubble’ - a micro-space in which the user is embedded by a semi-transparent added sound environment that will operate as a subtle sound mask, attracting the attention without needing to hide the disturbing environment. This should help users (the workers) to stay in an ’everyday listening’ mode. This means, not focusing on the environment in particular but on their tasks, while preserving the link with the surrounding space and activities. 

Keywords
Sonic environments, workplace
National Category
Information Systems, Social aspects
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning; SOCIAL SCIENCE, Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-10903 (URN)10.1017/S1355771816000418 (DOI)000398526500018 ()2-s2.0-85014659893 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2017-03-29 Created: 2017-03-29 Last updated: 2024-03-18Bibliographically approved
3. My sound space: An attentional shield for immersive redirection
Open this publication in new window or tab >>My sound space: An attentional shield for immersive redirection
2018 (English)In: AM'18 Proceedings of the Audio Mostly 2018 on Sound in Immersion and Emotion: ACM International Conference Proceeding Series, Association for Computing Machinery , 2018, article id a9Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In the context of extended reality, the term immersion is commonly used as a property denoting to which extent a technology can deliver an illusion of reality while occluding the users’ sensory access to the physical environment. In this paper we discuss an alternative interpretation of immersion, used in the My Sound Space project. The project is a research endeavor aiming to develop a sound environment system that enables a personalized sound space suitable for individual work places. The medium, which in our case is sound, is transparent and thus becomes an entangled part of the surrounding environment. This type of immersion is only partly occluding the users sensory access to physical reality. The purpose of using the sound space is not to become immersed by the sounds, rather to use the sounds to direct cognitive attention to get immersed in another cognitive activity. © 2018 Association for Computing Machinery.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Association for Computing Machinery, 2018
Keywords
Computer applications; Computer programming, Designing the unnoticeable; Immersive; Nonmediation; Sound designs; Sound spaces, Audio acoustics
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning; SOCIAL SCIENCE, Informatics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-13606 (URN)10.1145/3243274.3243309 (DOI)000475843400009 ()2-s2.0-85060936340 (Scopus ID)9781450366090 (ISBN)
Conference
2018 International Audio Mostly Conference - A Conference on Interaction with Sound: Sound in Immersion and Emotion, AM 2018; Wrexham; United Kingdom; 12 September 2018 through 14 September 2018
Available from: 2019-03-21 Created: 2019-03-21 Last updated: 2024-03-18Bibliographically approved

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Ljungdahl Eriksson, Martin

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