UVA Architecture School Shows off ‘Sound Lounge’ - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Architecture School Shows off ‘Sound Lounge’

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A Sound Lounge at the University of Virginia's School of Architecture is creating rooms without walls. The new technology is wowing visitors and turning strangers into friends. 

What looks like a sprawling lobby actually sounds like several different rooms - thanks to what are known as sound puddles. 

"They become mini environments in this busy lobby space," said Karen Van Lengen, an architecture professor.

Holosonic speakers inside cones direct sound to an oval on the ground. 

"When you're outside of the oval space you don't really hear the sound but when you get inside of the oval space you can hear it," Van Lengen said. 

When standing right in the middle of the cone, a decibel meter hovers around 90, or as loud as a subway car. As you move outside the cone, the decibels drop to the level of an average conversation, proving the sound really does make the space. 

Scholars are combining a soundtrack under the puddles with images projected on the cones to show visiting prospective graduate students the atmosphere of UVA. 

"We hope that this tells the story more than just an informative panel that is printed on a board," said Mara Marcu, an architecture lecturer. 

"A huge part of the discipline of design is not so much building but kind of creating an environment," said Ghazal Abbasy, another architecture lecturer. 

The environments are meant give students a reason to take off their headphones and talk to their peers. 

"They might come down and say, ‘oh look, goats,' look at the goats and then hear the goats and then a conversation begins and people introduce themselves and it's a big enough school that not everybody knows one another," Van Lengen said.  

It's a rare case of innovative technology encouraging human interaction. 

Monday night the architecture school is hosting a graduate student open house at the Sound Lounge. It's open to anyone with a passion for architecture and it kicks off at 7 p.m.

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