The Influence of Wine Culture on Architectural Acoustics

Fig. 11. Ceiling of a reception salon designed for musical performance, dancing and entertainment based on the Sabine acoustical formula (House Shams ad-Dīn Nahāvandi, Tehran, 1965, architect: Dariush Borbor).

Fig. 11. Ceiling of a reception salon designed for musical performance, dancing and entertainment based on the Sabine acoustical formula (House Shams ad-Dīn Nahāvandi, Tehran, 1965, architect: Dariush Borbor).

Wine drinking for celebration and feasting was often accompanied with music and dance which necessitated sophisticated acoustic treatment of the interior spaces by the architects.
Two remarkable examples of this is the reception hall at the ‘Ali Qāpu pavilion (fig. 8), and the royal wine cellar (fig. 4) both of which were designed by the architects of Shah ‘Abbās the Great in Isfahan to accommodate musical performances, dancing and wining. The designs were empirically based on the acoustical theory of the “open window” developed many years later (1898 CE) by the Harvard University physicist and pioneer of architectural acoustics Wallace Clement Sabine. He formulated a simple basic equation for the measurement and design of spaces which required acoustical treatment in their architecture:

RT60 = (.049V)

  • Reverberation Times (RT(60)) is the time taken for a continuous sound within a space to decay 60 decibels(dB). Reverberation is the persistence of sound in a particular space, after the original sound is removed. When sound is produced in a space, a large number of echoes build up and then fade out slowly, this is because sound is absorbed by the existing materials. Long reverberation, such as those in large cathedrals and churches with complete stone structures which lead to small absorption, create undesirable acoustics.
  • Volume (V) is the volume of the room (in cubic feet).
  • A is the sum of the surface area (in square feet) times the absorption coefficient of each material used within the enclosure, and the role the absorptive material plays with the remaining energy in the room.

The absorption coefficient of any material, as originally defined by Sabine, is the ratio of the sound absorbed by that material to that absorbed b y an equivalent area of an open window. A unit of acoustic absorption equivalent to the absorption by one square foot of a surface that absorbs all incident sounds is named as sabin in honour of this physicist. Thus a perfect absorbent material would have an absorbent coefficient of 1 and an absorption unit of 1 sabin represents a surface capable of absorbing sound at the same rate as 1 square foot of open window. Consequently, providing one knows the surface areas and the absorption coefficients of the materials to be used in a room, the reverberation time of the interior can be determined at the design stage.

A similar concept may be seen in an example of modern architecture of Iran (fig. 11).

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