Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A Curated Cacophony: Implementing an Intangible

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posted on 2021-11-22, 21:22 authored by Wright, Oliver

This research investigates a progression away from acoustics formed by spaces and towards spaces that are driven by target acoustics. Despite architecture and acoustics’ shared consideration of form, materiality and inhabitation, too often acoustics is neglected from design and so is treated remedially, nullifying creativity. A case study project was undertaken to investigate the opportunities and limitations of two parametric tools, Galapagos (a generative solver) and Pachyderm (an acoustic simulation tool), to develop acoustic qualities in early architectural design. Yet, what are these acoustic qualities and how could they be measured? Testing of cafes in the Wellington CBD was undertaken to investigate these questions.  Six cafes were acoustically tested and five patrons from each of these completed a subjective survey. The café testing suggested that Reverberation Time (RT) could be an effective acoustic measure to direct architectural design. The café with the lowest patron enjoyment rating also recorded the longest RT and highest Sound Pressure Level (SPL), reinforcing the relationship between these three elements. Through these findings, patron enjoyment was concluded to be dependent on SPL and SPL was concluded to be dependent on RT (Whitlock and Dodd, 424). In order to increase patron enjoyment, Galapagos was utilised to explore possible forms that met a target design RT of 0.7 seconds. An RT of 0.7 seconds was chosen as it was shorter than the AS/NZS 2107 (2000) maximum and was comparable to the cafés with the two highest subjective enjoyment ratings.  Through a parametric and analogue design methodology, Galapagos and Pachyderm were used to investigate how acoustic goals could shape a café design. The case study project produced a design that not only meets this acoustic criterion but harnesses form to sculpt sound. Instead of applying absorption to flat surfaces, the convex curves on the north and east facades disperse sound, producing both a diffuse environment and an engaging architectural element. This integrated investigation demonstrated that a parametric and analogue design process can be implemented to create a acoustically and architecturally effective design.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Perkins, Natasha; Donn, Michael; Mackay, Christina