Design

Real estate survey shows number one complaint about neighbors

is noise.  Real estate firm Trulia surveyed users about “neighbor pet peeves” and found that noise was the number one pet peeve, and that millennials were more likely to complain about noise than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.  In fact, the survey showed that 83% of millennials identified noise as their biggest pet peeve, while only 71% of Gen Xers and 54% of Baby Boomers did.  So much for the belief that noise is something that only older people complain about.  it would be interesting to survey millennials about noise in restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, since restauranteurs apparently believe that loud restaurants are bustling, convivial, and perceived as “lively and successful,”  rather than uncomfortable, challenging, and painful.

Eater’s Updated Guide to What’s Wrong With Restaurants Today

So what is the number one complaint?  You guessed it–noise.  What will the response be from restauranteurs?  If the past is any indication, nothing.  Until people refuse to eat at restaurants that serve a side of tinnitus with their meal, nothing will happen.  We at Silencity believe in voting with your wallet.  If enough people ask that music be lowered or complain to the manager about noise, eventually something will be done.  So be sure to tell the owner or manager why you won’t be returning to their restaurant or why you’ll pass on a table.  And while we wait for restauranteurs to react, go to our sister site, Quiet City Maps, and let them help you find a relatively quiet restaurant, bar, or coffee shop in noisy New York City.

Dear restaurant owners: we don’t go to your restaurants to listen to music!

Brits complain that minimalist decor and loud music are driving them away from restaurants.  Action on Hearing Loss, a British charity, has conducted a survey in which they found that “90 per cent of people with hearing difficulties felt background noise was the biggest problem they faced when eating out.”  The survey also found that “79 per cent of [respondents] said they had left an establishment early because of the sound levels and 91 per cent of those asked said they wouldn’t go back to a noisy venue.” 

Not mentioned in the article is the theory that restauranteurs deliberately play loud music in an attempt to scare away older customers, since these restauranteurs must all covet a younger crowd that presumably loves stereocilia-destroying music.  If true, they will no doubt ignore the advice offered in the articl to temper the loud volume, but they should not ignore the warning noted in the piece.  Namely, Action on Hearing Loss “is now hoping to develop an app which will allow people to take a decibel recording for restaurants, posting it onto a forum and allowing people to avoid particularly noisy establishments.” 

New Yorkers already have a tool they can use to help them avoid mind-numbingly loud restaurants.  Our sister site, Quiet City Maps, reviews noise levels of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, parks and privately owned public spaces throughout the city.  Click on the link to read the reviews and to check out the map, which shows you the good, the bad, and the ugly with easy to understand color icons.  A mobile app is in the works, so please send any suggestions of (relatively) quiet places their way.

 

New Yorkers, mark your calendars:

On September 24th the Noise Hackathon is presenting a series of fascinating talks that will look “into the complexities of noise including urban noise pollution and noise music to jump-start a full day of noise hacking.”  One of the talks will be presented by Dr. Arline Bronzaft, one of the leading experts in environmental psychology, who will talk about the impact of noise on health, particularly the  “non-auditory health risks and physiological disorders, including children’s learning skills, hypertension, sleep deprivation, and cardiovascular complications, as well as work productivity and social behavior.”

The September 24th Noise Hackathon is presented as part of NoiseGate Festival 2016, a “5-day music festival focusing on the environment, bringing awareness to spatial and urban noise pollution “in 3D” via Data-Driven, Art-Driven, Community-Driven efforts.”  Admission to the Noise Hackathon is free.  Just click the link to RSVP.

Note the healthy dose of skepticism:

The Kickstarter Success Story That Claims To Solve Noise Complaints.

Emphasis on “claims.”  You can read about this magical device (Muzo) by clicking the link.  Apparently the Kickstarter campaign seems long on promises and buzzwords (“Billionsound Technology (Powered by BST)” and “dynamic realistic sounds”) and short on, well, proof.  One good thing: $532,666 was raised in the Kickstarter campaign in which the creators sought just $100,000.  That is, lots of people want solutions for noise.  While we understand the appeal of a magic box, perhaps better regulation and quieter environments might be the better answer?

The law of unintended consequences strikes again:

U.S. Open Quieted Those Calling for a Roof. Now It Faces a Louder Problem.

Apparently the retractable roof repels rain but at the expense of trapping and reflecting fans’ voices and bouncing the sound to the court.  It’s not a problem for Wimbledon and the Australian Open, both of which added retractable roofs a while ago, because, in part, the Arthur Ashe Stadium holds 9,000 more people than the other two courts.  One must assume that Americans’ tolerance–if not love–of noise is a factor as well.  As the NY Times notes:

At most stadium sporting events, loudness is welcome, or even encouraged. At basketball arenas, football stadiums and baseball parks, video boards frequently implore, “Let’s make some noise!” In tennis, cheering is acceptable after points, but fans are expected to be quiet in the moments leading up to the action and the time during play.

Fan behavior at Ashe Stadium has always been unusual when compared with the three other Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon. At the hallowed ground of Centre Court at Wimbledon, talking aloud during a point would probably get fans ejected.

Given the $150 million cost of the new roof, the folks at the U.S. Open probably would love to find a low-cost solution to this problem.  May we suggest duct tape?  Lots and lots of duct tape.

Thanks to Dr. Daniel Fink for the link.

Part sound survey, part sound art, and completely compelling:

The Next Station.  A collaborative work by Cities and Memories and London Sound Survey, the Next Station is a sound map of the London Underground and, “by remixing and reimagining every sound it creates[,] an alternative sound world based on the experience and memory of the iconic Tube.”

 

 

Was there no alternative?

Former banker makes money keeping partyers quiet, spreads the appeal of “quiet clubbing” across the country.

No doubt you are wondering what goes on at a quiet clubbing event.  Good question.  According to Crain’s, at a quiet clubbing event partygoers wear “wireless headphones that connect to the music of one of several live DJs,  Each headset has a color LED light that indicates which music the wearer is listening to. The atmosphere is clublike, with strobe lights and booze, but the noise level is lower.”

While we applaud the desire to lower noise levels, we can’t get the image out of our heads of a roomful of people dancing and singing along to different playlists in an otherwise quiet room.  And what about those who think that quiet clubbing is antisocial?  The former banker/current club diva disagrees, stating that quiet clubbing is “the opposite of antisocial because unlike a traditional club, people can take off their headphones and actually have a normal conversation without screaming at the person standing next to them.”  Finally, a solution to the problem of trying to have a conversation in a club!

That said, taken to its logical conclusion, and thanks to virtual reality, soon anyone can throw a quiet clubbing party in his or her own apartment.  Just grab a pair of VR googles, put on your 3D headphones, and dance with yourself and your virtual friends.

Thanks to Charles Shamoon for the link.

Remember when you could enjoy a meal with friends without screaming through your meal?

Those days could be coming back: Why quiet restaurants are having a moment.

Debora Robertson, writing for The Telegraph, reports about the efforts by Svante Borjesson, director of the hearing charity Oir es Clave (“Hearing is Key”), who has launched an initiative called “Eating Without Noise.”  Borjesson signed up 22 restaurants to join the initiative, though most seem on the higher end.  Which is a shame, because a comfortable restaurant should be available for everyonthe rich. That said, when you consider the effect noise has on the dining experience, it’s foolhardy for any restaurateur to ignore the acoustics of their restaurants.  As Robertson notes:

Restaurateurs who pay more attention to the art on their walls than acoustics might want to rethink. The quiet restaurant movement is backed up science. A recent Cornell University study found that decibels definitely have an impact on deliciousness.

Yep, noise affects flavor.  And it’s important is to remember that a visit to a restaurant, especially with family or friends, is about much more than the food.  Robertson writes:

Most of us go to restaurants not just for the food, but also to enjoy the company of our friends. If we can’t hear what they’re saying, we might as well stay at home with Netflix and a bowl of pasta. But there are few things more enjoyable than sitting in a beautiful restaurant, eating something wonderful, catching up on the latest scandals and (possibly) watching other diners creating scandals of their own. Is it too much to ask for the gentle, sound-absorbing comfort of a well-insulated floor, the odd soft banquette, perhaps – whisper it – a tiny swathe of curtain?

Short answer: No, it’s not too much to ask.

And this is the perfect opportunity to introduce our sister site, Quiet City Maps, where we review restaurants, coffee shops, bars, parks, and privately owned public spaces based on how loud they are (or, one hopes, aren’t).  The focus at Quiet City Maps is comfort, i.e., whether the space allows for easy conversation.  We have started in Manhattan and hope to launch an app before very long.  And then?  Onward to Brooklyn, Queens, and points beyond!

Link via @QuietMark.

We want walls:

the future of office design – and the demise of open plan.   God willing.

Open floor plans, particularly poorly executed plans that are intended to shove as many bodies into the smallest possible space, hurt employee morale and interfere with work.  Many employees may resent a perceived loss of status as they are removed from offices and given a space for which there is little or no privacy.  But open floor plans do more than hurt employees’ self-esteem.  Dr Matthew Davis, a professor of the psychology of office design at Leeds University Business School, has researched “the poor hygiene and frequent distractions of open-plan offices,” with one report finding that “the loss of productivity [was] so great in an open-plan office that it outweigh[ed] the money saved by putting everyone in the same room.”

So what is business doing in response?  Apparently, “organisations are now seeking flexible, modern offices with private pods where workers can hunker down without interruption, with protocols such as no talking on mobile phones, for instance, and no eating.”  Or perhaps your employer will invest in a “chair with zip-up sides.”

Or CEOs could stop listening to the finance guys when making decisions about workplace design and opt for space that lets their employees do their work.  Just throwing that out there.

Link via @QuietMark.