Chapter 19Preparing the Environment for Noise Abatement

Noise is pervasive, entering not just into our offices, but also into our homes, cars, classrooms, and heads. Protecting ourselves from the constant barrage of mindless messages and streaming nonsense demands bold responses, starting with the basic environments where we live, learn, and work.

We need to design against distractions.

It’s not going to be easy to set boundaries that limit and block unwanted access to noise. But we need to ensure our surroundings fulfill the need for more focus, rest, and real connections.

  • When you walk into the average office or home, how many screens do you see?
  • When you walk from conference room to cubicle, where does connectivity stop?
  • When you go into a classroom without a connected device, can you still learn?

Who will redesign these spaces?

It seems like the architectural and design world is going with the flow, pushing an always-on agenda, from smart cars to smart classrooms to smart homes. Who will push back?

The Center for Humane Technology is stepping up, sounding an alarm with a conscience and with conviction:

In the future, we will look back at today as a turning point towards humane design: when we moved away from technology that extracts attention and erodes society, towards technology that protects our minds and replenishes society.1

Image of a “noteworthy” section titled “learning a lesson in library school redesign: creativity, collaboration, and communication bring in coffee talk—and some quiet.” The bottom line of this long note is that this is noteworthy because going to open floor spaces creates opportunity for collaboration—and distractions. So, giving people a choice between silent and collaborative spaces is wise.

The Failure of Open Floor Plans

If ...

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