Universal Access in the Information Society

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 283–292 | Cite as

Designing spaces for every listener

  • Ann HeylighenEmail author
  • Monika Rychtáriková
  • Gerrit Vermeir
Long Paper


Inclusive design aims at objects and environments that are accessible, usable and comfortable for all people throughout their entire lifespan. In architecture, this aim is usually associated with physical accessibility. Yet acoustic qualities may considerably impact usability and comfort as well, especially in spaces for listening. This case study explores the notion of acoustic comfort for all in the context of university education. One auditorium, situated in a historic building and subject to renovation in the near future, is studied in detail: acoustic obstacles are identified in collaboration with user/experts and are measured in situ; specific interventions are proposed in consultation with building professionals, technicians and conservation specialists and are tested using dedicated acoustic simulation software. The study draws attention to the importance of acoustic comfort for all and offers a first view of which solutions are possible and desirable and how these can be obtained.


Architecture Acoustic comfort Inclusive design 



The case study reported on is based on the Master thesis of Karolien De Leye and Eva Dooms. Special thanks are due to the user/experts, the Technical services of the K.U.Leuven, and KIDS (Royal Institute for Deaf and Speech Impaired). Ann Heylighen’s research has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 201673.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann Heylighen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Monika Rychtáriková
    • 2
  • Gerrit Vermeir
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Architecture, Urbanism & PlanningKatholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven)LeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Building Physics & Laboratory of AcousticsKatholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven)LeuvenBelgium

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