Leading the Charge in Building Acoustics: An Interview with Helen Sheldon

Pascal van Dort
February 21, 2023

Meet Helen Sheldon, an expert in building acoustics and the Director at RBA Acoustics. With over 20 years of experience in the field, Helen shares her insights on the current state of acoustic design, the future of the industry, and her vision for the perfect office environment.

Helen Sheldon is a trailblazer in the world of building acoustics, using her extensive knowledge and expertise to bring top-quality acoustic design to projects around the globe. As the Director at RBA Acoustics, she not only advises on high-profile projects in the UK, Middle East, and Eastern Europe, but also actively promotes the importance of acoustics as a STEM subject. 

With a passion for both music and science, Helen has been revolutionising the field for over 20 years and shows no signs of slowing down. As she looks to the future, Helen envisions a greater focus on sustainability and health and wellbeing in acoustic design, all while creating the perfect balance of lively collaboration areas and peaceful spaces for focused work.

How did you get started working in your field of expertise?

I always loved music, but also enjoyed maths and science, and so working in the ‘science of sound’ seemed like a good idea. Not many people have head of acoustics as a sector, but my dad had worked in acoustics, so I was aware that it existed and building acoustic design appealed to me. So, I decided to study Physics, Music, and Maths at A-Level, then went on to do a degree in Physics with Acoustics at Salford University. Once I graduated, I started working in acoustic consultancy and have never looked back! 

Acoustics & Design 1on 1 interview with panelists

What does the future of acoustics and design look like to you?

How do you design an open plan office when the client wants to have an exposed open plenum?

This is highly dependent on the wants and needs of the client – it is possible to create a good environment even with an exposed soffit/service, but as the nature of acoustics is subjective and depends on the type and culture of the work the specific design will vary. The most important thing is ensuring that there is a good client briefing and the acoustic consultant and design team understand what is required.

Acoustics & Design 1on 1 interview with panelists

What are your key takeaways from the panel discussion?