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The Quiet Mark Podcast

Welcome to The Quiet Mark Podcast.

Hosted by Simon Gosling, CSO at Quiet Mark, the global award programme associated with the UK Noise Abatement Society, this series uniquely explores the vital role acoustics will play in the future of global living, building and product design sharing conversations with thought-leading designers, architects, and sound experts.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises environmental noise as the 2nd largest environmental health risk in Western Europe after air quality. Noise contributes to a range of physical and mental health problems, disturbed sleep, affects people’s hearing, communication and learning. And, in our smart-phone era, noise isn’t only about the big sounds of planes, traffic and construction sites, smaller sounds like someone FaceTiming on the bus or playing music loudly through their tinny headphones can cause stress, annoyance and impacts our mental health.

During this time of Lockdown our world is much quieter than usual, every sound is more noticeable, quietness has never seemed more important or front of mind, where could this take us and how will we live, build, and work after this profound period of change? To help navigate the world-changes around us, these exclusive insights into pioneering projects and visions, explore the future on the other side of the crisis.


Episode 10: Mahmoud Alamir - Acoustics PhD Candidate, Flinders University of South Australia


9 November 2020




On Sept. 29th 2020, was one of many global publications to highlight a study by our guest on Ep. 10, Acoustics PhD Candidate, Mahmoud Alamir of Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. Under the headline: "Noisy restaurants leave a bad taste for diners, researchers recommend quiet spaces", Malcolm Sutton writes,

Polished concrete and hard surfaces may be all the rage for today's cafes and restaurants but, according to Flinders University researchers, the accompanying noise levels are reducing people's enjoyment of food.

Using an 11-point Likert scale to rate participants' responses, the study found that restaurant and traffic noise at all levels reduced people's enjoyment of food, but it tasted worse the louder those noises became.

On the flipside, however, the paper found that relaxing music increased people's food enjoyment — by 60 percent at 30dBA, and by 38 percent at 40dBA.

In addition to his studies of sounds effect on our dining experience, Mahmoud also speaks to our host, Simon Gosling about his exploration of sound's impact on our sleep and another one of his studies, "The Human response to wind farm noise compared to road traffic noise based on focused listening tests". 

Mahmoud Alamir has a considerable number of years of international research experience in engineering and programmes. He has developed, co-ordinated, lectured, assessed and examined a wide range of courses. He is now doing research with Australian experts in projects funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). He's presented his research at a number of internationally prestigious journals, conferences, workshops, and seminars. He's also tutored, lectured and coordinated a number of courses including acoustics at theUniversity of Adelaide and Flinders University.

"My general research interests are acoustics and its relation to heat, airflow and human responses (i.e. Thermoacoustics, Aeroacoustics and Psychoacoustics), Mahmoud tells Simon. "I am currently studying the effect of noise on human responses during my PhD program. In particular, I am studying the effect of wind farm noise on sleep acceptability. In my current and previous work, I use state of the art artificial intelligence models for acoustical problems".

Food, Sleep, Energy and Power - a listen to this fascinating episode really highlights how sound is at the very heart of every element of our lives. Thus providing further emphasis on the need for quiet machines and appliances and improved acoustics in the built environment; made possible by the products and materials that are certified by Quiet Mark and included its online platform; to further equip and empower architects, builders and designers with a guide to expertly verified leading acoustic solutions for every building application area. 



Episode 9: Steve Keller - Sonic Strategy Director, Studio Resonate at Pandora


5 October 2020




If clever audio branding can influence our behaviour and drive our purchase decisions, what impact can good acoustic architecture and sound design in the built environment have on our well being and mental health? In Ep.9 of The Quiet Mark Podcast, Simon Gosling seeks answers to that question from one of the world’s leading experts in the field of sonic identity, Steve Keller, to find out, when it comes to sound in adverts, what makes people tick and why, and to explore the lessons this can teach us in our approach to the acoustic design of products and places. Steve Keller is Sonic Strategy Director for Studio Resonate, Pandora’s audio-first creative consultancy. With a degree in psychology and over 30 years of experience in the music and advertising industries, Steve’s work explores the ways music and sound impact consumer perception and behaviour. Recent experiments have examined the relationship between sound and taste, the existence of audio archetypes, the cost and benefits of music, soundscapes and noise in healthcare settings, and how bias impacts the aesthetic judgements of advertising professionals. Steve raises the subject of ‘Alarm Fatigue’ in hospitals. The alarms, beeps and chatter of a hospital aren’t just uncomfortable for patients and staff: the noise can undermine safety and health. One report by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses found that from 72% to 99% of all hospital alarms were false. At just one hospital – Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland – there is an average of 350 alarms per patient per day. Steve talks of ambient musician Yoko Sen who, after an unsettling hospital stay, founded a start-up that creates more pleasing sounds for medical devices and the work of famed composer and U2 Producer, Brian Eno who produced two pieces of light installation art designed to relax patients at The Montefiore Hospital in Hove. Pandora is a leading music and podcast discovery platform, providing a highly-personalized listening experience to approximately 70 million users each month. As the largest streaming music provider in the U.S., with an industry-leading digital audio advertising platform, Pandora connects listeners with the audio entertainment they love. Pandora is a subsidiary of Sirius XM Holdings Inc. Together, Pandora and SiriusXM have created the world's largest audio entertainment company.



Episode 8: Mike Jacob - Co-founder of Kiss House


18 August 2020




Together, building and construction are responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world, and alongside air traffic and road traffic, construction is one of the biggest sources of noise pollution. 

Does it have to be this way? One man who believes construction could be quieter and more sustainable, and whose company is determined to make it so, is Kiss House Co-Founder, Mike Jacob; our guest on Episode 8 of The Quiet Mark Podcast. Kiss House’s motto is simple. Build Better. Live Better. 

In 2018 The World Health Organization calculated that at least 1m healthy life-years are lost every year in western European countries because of environmental noise, with cardiovascular disease contributing to the vast majority of these deaths, especially high blood pressure, heart attacks and coronary heart disease. It is thought that noise triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which damages blood vessels over time. 

A wave of silence has spread across the planet as man-made noise fell by 50% during worldwide coronavirus lockdowns. Does a return to a new normality necessarily have to bring with it a return to pre-lockdown volume levels? 

Air traffic has reduced with less vacation travel and global business meetings increasingly taking place on Zoom and other video call platforms.  

With companies such as Google telling employees to stay home until summer 2021, and Twitter announcing that employees could work from home indefinitely, comes a significant reduction in road traffic, with vast numbers of people no longer doing the daily commute.

But what about noise from construction? The number of new homes registered to be built per annum in the UK has risen by more than 80 per cent over the last decade. Ground-working is an especially noisy process, but could much of that be carried out in remote factories, away from neighbourhoods? 

Mike discusses this and more with our host, Simon Gosling, explaining the path that lead to Kiss House and their work to disrupt the future of construction, transforming the lives of occupants, for the better.



Episode 7: Martin Rawlins - BASWA acoustic, Nigel Sill - Enfield Speciality Doors and Oliver Brookes - BB&C Architects


20 July 2020




In Episode 7 of The Quiet Mark Podcast, introducing our audio resource book for architects, Simon Gosling talks with Martin Rawlins - Head of UK & Australia sales at BASWA acoustic and Nigel Sill - Chairman of Enfield Speciality Doors, two companies whose Quiet Mark certified products enable architects to improve the acoustics and sound design of buildings, without compromising on the visual aesthetic.

Simon also enjoys a conversation with Oliver Brookes, an Architect with Cambridge based BB&C Architects, who turned to another such company's Quiet Mark certified product, Armourcoat's acoustic plaster system, for a much needed solution when creating a music listening room within this beautiful domestic home.

BASWA acousticEnfield Speciality Doors and Armourcoat are just 3 of the many brands whose expert-approved acoustic materials, products and solutions are listed within Quiet Mark's Acoustic Academy: a brand new, free to use online platform, designed to further equip and empower architects, specifiers, developers and designers with a guide to expertly verified leading acoustic solutions for every building application area, including; approved specialist acoustic glazing, sound barriers, panels, pumps, acoustic doors, flooring, insulation, commercial ventilation, acoustic plasters and surfaces and much more. 

Example building application areas include, residential, commercial, industrial, schools, offices, healthcare, hospitals, restaurants and public spaces.

Poppy Szkiler, Founder and CEO, Quiet Mark says: “Acoustics Academy is our new online platform developed to serve the building sector by further equipping and empowering industry to easily find the latest expert-approved acoustic materials, products and solutions organised in a one-stop online hub for the right building applications and scenarios.

“Building design is now evolving to prioritise responsible sound-design transforming living spaces into harmonious soundscapes that deliver excellent acoustics to support health, well-being and desire for quieter living. A property that has been carefully designed acoustically creates a beautiful, calm, supportive environment, reducing unnecessary stress for all inhabitants for generations to come.”



Episode 6: Wade Bray, HEAD Acoustics, Inc. 

PSYCHOACOUSTICS OF SOUNDSCAPES - Masterclass on Designing with Sound for Consumer Technology, Restaurants, Architecture, Automotive, Cities and more.

7 July 2020




With the UK's hospitality industry opening its doors again, after over 100 days of lockdown, show host, Simon Gosling asks, "Have you ever been to a restaurant with a friend and found yourself having to talk loudly, just to be heard above the music, the kitchen noise and the other diners? Your friend then feels the need to talk even louder to be heard by you and before you know it, you’re both having to shout at one another, just to enjoy a friendly conversation!"

This is known as the Lombard Effect and studies have shown that whilst higher decibels in a restaurant might make someone eat more food during their visit, it may nevertheless put them off returning, making it a false economy.

Our guest on Episode 6, Wade Bray - Vice President of HEAD acoustics, Inc., imparts a lifetime of study and experience, not only with the acoustics of restaurants, but also with many other spheres including consumer technology, architecture, automotive, concert halls and more.

HEAD acoustics, Inc. is one of the world’s leading companies for integrated acoustics solutions as well as sound and vibration analysis. They offer a broad portfolio of products and services covering almost any application in the areas of sound design for technical products and the enhancement of speech and audio quality in the telecommunications industry. The company benefits from the combination of cutting-edge measurement technology with many years of practical experience in these industries.

When it comes to taste, Marmite’s advertising famously tells us that you either love it, or hate it. But is the same true of sound? Or do we all agree that a sound is either good or bad? In this episode Wade shares how they measure psychoacoustic metrics and the ways that humans respond to a variety of sounds. This includes interviewing individuals for their personal reactions, so that this information can then be applied to the sound design of products, to enhance the user’s perception.

We hope this episode sounds good to you!



Episode 5: Adrian Passmore, ARUP

THE HUMAN FACTOR - Evidence-based, Experiential Design and Meaningful Sound Measurement in the Built Environment

23 June 2020




How adept are we when it comes to describing sound?

Adrian Passmore is an Acoustician and Associate Director with ARUP, who demystifies the language of sound and acoustics and tells of the latest advancements in technology and virtual reality, which enable stakeholders to experience what a future building project both looks and sounds like before building begins.

Adrian was one of the masterclass speakers at Quiet Mark’s Acoustics Academy launch last February, a video of which can be seen on our Youtube channel, QuietMark TV. This podcast recording was made immediately as we stepped off stage at the February event and we would like to give a quick thank you to our Quiet Mark awarded partners, AllSfär who kindly provided biophilic acoustic murals, which provided excellent, much needed sound proofing and dampening at The Business Design Centre, and they also provided very comfortable acoustic furniture which is perfect for podcast recording and available though our Acoustics Academy platform of verified acoustic products for every building project.

Arup is an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, architects, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment. Headquartered in London, they currently employ over 15K people globally working on projects in over 140 countries.

Arup was born of their founder, Sir Ove Arup’s conviction that a more collaborative and open-minded approach to engineering would lead to work of greater quality and enduring relevance. His legacy is an organisation that continues to be recognised for bravely imaginative solutions to the world’s most challenging projects.

For more than 20 years Adrian has been delivering holistic acoustic building designs. After graduating from the Salford University Electroacoustics degree in 1992, Adrian was employed with an underwater acoustics research company for five years, working primarily for military and petrochemical industries.

In 1997 he began his career in commercial acoustic consultancy, working for Sound Research Laboratories Ltd in London where he gained wide experience in building acoustics, before joining Spectrum Acoustics Limited to assist in setting-up their London office.

He joined Arup Acoustics in 2002 and currently leads their UKIMEA Property business interests, with principal focus on developments containing residential, commercial, hotels and leisure buildings. Adrian also leads the Acoustics’ 28 staff London team. Adrian has led the acoustic design on nationally significant infrastructure projects and major developments, such as: HS2 London Euston and Birmingham Stations; BBC Television Centre, London; Paradise Circus Redevelopment, Birmingham; Earls Court Development, London; Chelsea Barracks, London.



Episode 4: Shane Cryer, Saint-Gobain Ecophon

ACOUSTICS IN EDUCATION - How we can totally transform and stimulate learning with sound design.

8 June 2020




As schools reopen their doors, after 10 weeks of lockdown, it seems fitting that this episode should focus on Acoustics in Education.

Our guest, Shane Cryer, Concept Developer – Education, manages the education sector in the UK and Ireland for Swedish acoustic experts, Saint-Gobain Ecophon. Having recently completed the The Institute of Acoustics (IOA) diploma is now an Associate Member of the IOA. Working closely with The Institute of Acoustics (IOA) and the RIBA, Shane has been promoting BB93: Acoustic Design of Schools standard via CPD seminars, conferences and articles in the trade press.

Following his Masterclass presentation at our Acoustics Academy launch event; last February, Shane explains to our host, Simon Gosling, how good acoustics in schools can reduce absenteeism, improve exam results and increase wellbeing for students and teachers.

He also shares the story of Sara, a profoundly deaf Year 12 Student with cochlea implants, whose learning experience at Sweyne Park School was totally transformed after Ecophon’s work in her school led to a 10 dB increase in the difference between the teacher’s voice and the background noise. So not only did the room become quieter, it also became much easier for the pupils to hear what the teacher was saying; Sara’s grades improving as a result, with a future at University pending.

Saint-Gobain Ecophon are one of the many Quiet Mark awarded, world leading manufactures of acoustic products that feature within our new - a free to use online platform to further equip and empower architects, builders and designers with a guide to expertly verified leading acoustic solutions for every building application area.



Episode 3: Oliver Heath, Oliver Heath Design

BIOPHILIC ACOUSTICS - What nature can teach us about sound design.

26 May 2020




In Episode 3 of The Quiet Mark PodcastBiophilic Designer & BBC DIYSOS team-member, Oliver Heath chats with Simon Gosling about Biophilic Acoustics - what nature can teach us about sound design & how a connection with nature can improve wellbeing.

They recorded 2 conversations for this episode. The first at Oliver's Brighton studio, just before lockdown, soon after he had delivered a Masterclass at the launch of our - a new online platform to further equip and empower architects, builders and designers with a guide to expertly verified leading acoustic solutions for every building application area.

The second was in early May, wk. 5 of lockdown, via video-call, in which Oliver shares useful Biophilic WFH tips, on how to bring nature into our homes and improve productivity.

Oliver mentions the benefits of taking Photon Showers and the pleasures of Shinrin-Yoku, the Japanese art of Forest Bathing. Coincidentally, Shinrin Yoku is a practise featured in the critical-hit feature film documentary, In Pursuit of Silence, Exec Produced by Quiet Mark CEO, Poppy Szkiler. Quiet Mark co-produced, then funded & delivered the UK & German markets cinema release distribution & promotion of this film by director Patrick Shen.



Episode 2: Carolyn Forte of Good Housekeeping Institute & Ethan Bourdeau of IWBI (The International WELL Building Institute)

LIVE FROM NEW YORK IN LOCKDOWN: Home and Building Standards Special

12 May 2020




In Episode 2 of The Quiet Mark Podcast, Simon Gosling, CSO at Quiet Mark, enjoys conversations during Lockdown, via Video-Call from NEW YORK, with Carolyn Forte, Director/Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab at GOOD HOUSEKEEPING INSTITUTE, Good Housekeeping Magazine, and Ethan Bourdeau, Concept Lead/ Senior Associate at the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).

Like the Quiet Mark Award, The Good Housekeeping Seal and The WELL Certification are standards from trusted third party expert organisations. They each demystify the science, simplifying it for the public or defining it for industry, so that when one sees their mark, seal or certification they know instantly that the item that has received it, be it an appliance or a building, has been verified, thoroughly approved and commended by the longstanding experts.

Carolyn and Ethan discuss how sound and acoustics play a pivotal role in the assessment process of their standards especially now in the world changing around us, explaining how good sound design can not only enhance performance, but is also powerful to fortify well-being, productivity and one's overall mental and physical health.



Episode 1: Colin Ball & Richard Grove - BDP (Building Design Partnership)

RESONANCE: A Sense of Place

PLUS: Building the NHS ExCel Nightingale Hospital. Acoustics & Lighting Design During Lockdown.

12 April 2020




It’s our great pleasure to introduce our first guests: Richard Grove, Group Acoustic Director at BDP and Colin Ball, Lighting Director at BDP, Building Design Partnership.

Whilst we originally recorded our conversation at the Acoustics Academy launch event in February 2020, soon after, the Coronavirus changed life as we knew it, lockdown meant that we started working from home. So, on 8th April, we remotely recorded an extra section talking through insights into the building of the Nightingale Hospital and Richard’s unfortunate experience, battling with Coronavirus symptom. 

Colin is a leading designer of international excellence and repute. He leads the award winning London lighting studio. Educated in architecture, Colin has subsequently worked as a lighting designer for 21 years, with 10 years experience at Speirs + Major and 6 years at Isometrix Lighting + Design prior to joining BDP in 2011.

Richard is Acoustics Director and leads the Acoustics team in BDP’s Environmental Design Studio in London and has led the development of the recently launched Acoustics Technician Apprenticeship. He has worked in the field of acoustics since 2005, analysing and advising on acoustics and vibration designs in multi-discipline projects for a wide variety of sectors.