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Festival-goers open their ears to SoundLab

Visitors to Edinburgh’s science festival have been opening their ears to the technology used in creating Scotland’s first “SoundLab” at The Hub in Glasgow.

The Sonic Dreams live exhibit in St Andrew Square was created by global engineers Arup to showcase its 3D “auralisation” of building design.

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Arup’s Rob Harris, one of the world’s leading acoustic engineers, delivered the festival’s annual Arup Lecture this week and said builders of concert halls, auditoria and even railway stations should ignore the technology at their peril.

“Millions can be saved on acoustics by developers and architects if the third sense is taken into consideration when a facility dependent on perfect sound reproduction is being designed,” he said.

Harris and his team, who have built Glasgow’s SoundLab studio at the Pacific Quay media park, can claim involvement in an array of public auditoria from Glasgow City Halls, BBC Scotland and The Bridge at Easterhouse to the Royal Opera House in London, the Sydney City Recital Hall and the new rail station at Florence in Italy.

The SoundLab allows Arup to recreate virtually the acoustic conditions of any building or external environment at design stage, allowing clients to listen to options rather than having to read technical papers. “It allows Arup to listen to buildings before any foundation has been laid,” Harris said.

Arup’s acoustics operation in Glasgow is currently merging with the Digital Design Studio of Glasgow School of Art to create iXDdesigns, an alliance combining auralisation with visualisation.

Seb Jouan, leader of Arup’s acoustic business in Scotland, says the collaboration “provides a vital service to the construction sector… it can be used to create models of concert halls, stadia or airports for instance”.

Sonic Dreams, which ends on Saturday, was interpreted for performance by theatre director Cathie Boyd and aimed at younger visitors.

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