Indoor climate and well-being

Redefining Classroom Acoustics: The Work of Professor Arianna Astolfi

Pascal van Dort
March 1, 2023

Arianna Astolfi is revolutionising the field of architectural acoustics with her extensive research in classroom acoustics. Learn more about her work and insights on designing educational spaces that promote learning, communication, and engagement.

Professor Arianna Astolfi

Arianna Astolfi is an expert in architectural acoustics, particularly classroom acoustics, and is a professor of Building Physics at the Politecnico di Torino. She co-authored the paper "Acoustical parameters for learning in classroom: A review" and contributed to the Italian acoustic standard for schools, UNI 11532-2, which has established new benchmarks for classroom acoustics in public schools across Italy.

In recognition of her contributions, Arianna was nominated in Rockfon's top 10 Women Reshaping the World of Sound in honour of International Women's Day.

How did you become intrigued in the field of architectural acoustics?

Since the very beginning of my career, after my PhD in thermal and acoustic comfort in classrooms and offices. I decided to work in the field of architectural acoustics because more than 20 years ago it was in Italy a quite unexplored field. I am an architect with a PhD in Applied Physics and my expertise in the field of architecture made this choice more natural.

What advice would you give to aspiring student minds interested in pursuing a career within architectural acoustics?

I would suggest him/her to pursue their dreams. To do that, I would advise to hear with their own ears and to look with their own eyes when they are in a room and to try to catch the issues that they aspire to solve. They should look at the problems they face from another point of view, different from what most of the people do. Only in this way they can solve the problem.

Could you tell us about the work that went into creating the Italian acoustic standard for schools, UNI 11532-2?

Some years ago, inside the UNI Committee for Acoustics and Vibration the idea was born to design a standard to address acoustic comfort inside different indoor spaces, like schools, offices, hospitals, etc. The task of coordinating the new working group was assigned to Linda Parati, who has a wide professional experience on this topic. Many academics and professionals put their experience in this collective work. I had the chance to participate in this collective work, too. I shared my experience in classroom acoustics acquired in more than twenty-years of study in this field, to the service of the standard. I published many articles on the topic and this was for me the way to serve the UNI committee. Another important contribution came from the acoustics researchers of the University of Bologna, who shared their experience on the refurbishment of several university lecture halls.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in implementing this standard?

The UNI working group had to select the relevant acoustic criteria, to propose suitable target values for them, to clearly explain how to estimate them at design stage and how to measure them after the construction, considering also the measurement uncertainty. And all this avoiding any clash with the old national regulations on the same topic. One person cannot do all this, but all together in the UNI group we did it. 

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