From Reykjavík in Iceland, Finnur Kári Pind Jörgensson completed his MSc in Engineering Acoustics at DTU in 2013. After working as an acoustic consultant for a few years in his homeland, he decided to return to Denmark and do a PhD.
" I wanted to get a high quality education and to work with leading experts in the field"
Finnur Kári Pind Jörgensson
My project is an industrial PhD project, a collaboration between the Acoustic Technology group and the Compute group at DTU and Henning Larsen Architects (HLA). The objective of the project is to get acoustics, particularly room acoustics, better involved into the design process at HLA, with the ultimate goal of designing better buildings with healthier indoor environments. The main component of the project is to develop a new type of room acoustic simulation tool, which will be used by HLA. I have a broad interest in acoustics, e.g. architectural acoustics, electro-acoustics, musical acoustics, physical acoustics and audio signal processing. My main area of interest, however, is within the field of room acoustic simulations, where the task is to calculate and estimate the acoustics of a given space using a 3D computer model of the space. Room acoustic simulations are a very useful tool when designing the acoustics of spaces, such as classrooms, restaurants, concert halls, auditoriums, hospitals, recording studios, living rooms and pretty much any type of space.
Going on to explain how he became interested in this particular field:
My interest in acoustics and sound stems from my lifelong interest in music. I’ve played the guitar since I was a kid and I was always very fascinated with the technical part of musical sound, the amplifiers, the instruments, the guitar effects, the audio software and of course the acoustics of spaces. And when the time came to choose a career path, I simply tried to choose what was closest to my area of interest, namely sound. I did my bachelor in electrical engineering in Iceland and initially I thought I was headed into the electro-acoustical world, e.g. design loudspeakers, amplifiers or doing audio DSP. I signed up for the Engineering Acoustics master program at DTU, which has a bit of everything related to sound and acoustics. There I became absolutely fascinated with architectural acoustics, in particular room acoustics and the simulation of room acoustics. I did my master project on room acoustic simulations and found the field to be extremely interesting.
And what motivated you to further research in this area?
First of all, even though the field of room acoustic simulations has come far, there is still so much room for improvement. The accuracy, the speed of calculations and how and when the simulations are applied are all aspects in which there is plenty of room for improvement. For example, during my work as an acoustic consultant for the last few years, there were several cases where the room acoustical simulations we made turned out to be considerably far from the acoustics we measured once the spaces we were designing had been built. I also felt frustrated at some points in my consulting work that the acoustics were not considered earlier in the design process, which often meant that our hands as designers were somewhat tied when it came to solutions to acoustic problems – it was too late or expensive to make the necessary adjustments. I felt that the building design industry as a whole needed to rethink the way it approaches acoustics, by having the acoustics influence the design from the very beginning and throughout the entire design process. This way I believe we’ll get spaces with better acoustics and most likely at a reduced cost (both in terms of money and environmental impact), and this is precisely what my project aims to address. Finally, room acoustic simulations are a challenging field, the way sound behaves in a space is extremely complicated and to simulate that behavior accurately is very challenging. It requires advanced mathematics, advanced programming and a good knowledge of the physics at hand. And I love a good challenge that makes my brain work hard!
The choice to return to the Acoustic Technology Group happened because Finnur believes that the Group is at the very cutting edge of the acoustics world. Finnur continues, "I wanted to get a high quality education and to work with leading experts in the field. I enjoyed my masters studies immensely and had a great collaboration with my master project supervisor Cheol-Ho Jeong, so when the opportunity came to come back and work with him on an interesting project, it was an easy decision for me".
Offering a deeper explanation of his research Finnur elaborates,
HLA wants acoustics to be an actual design parameter in a holistic architectural design process, in which various technical aspects are considered and allowed to influence the design from the very beginning and throughout the entire design process. Instead of what is usually done today, where the acoustics are only considered late in the process, which can often result in either bad acoustics, expensive solutions or poor aesthetics that don’t conform to the architects’ initial vision – or a mixture of all these things. The company has already incorporated other technical aspects such as daylight, energy usage, thermal comfort and sustainability, in previous industrial Ph.D. projects, into their design process, and now the idea is to do the same with acoustics.
A simulation tool will be developed that will be integrated into the architectural design software (Rhino) used by HLA. This will allow for a seamless evaluation of the acoustics at any design stage and will thus assist the architects, perhaps aided with in-house acoustics expertize, in designing with the acoustics in mind. A part of the research is focused on how exactly such a tool show operate, when it should be used and what are the most effective ways of simulating acoustics which will help architects design acoustically friendlier environments.
The research will primarily, however, be focused on the actual development of the simulation tool. The idea behind the tool is to combine two different simulation techniques in a "hybrid" algorithm that can produce accurate results in the entire audible spectrum for any size and shape of a space. These techniques are known as wave-based methods on the one hand and geometrical acoustics on the other hand. Geometrical acoustics methods have been used for a long time in room acoustic simulations and are known for their speed and decent accuracy at mid and high frequencies. Wave-based methods (numerical approximations of the wave equation) are newer and more complex, they tend to be very accurate but can be computationally intensive. By combining the two methods in an optimal way, the hypothesis is that one can get accurate results for the entire spectrum for any type of space, while keeping computation times within reasonable limits. Thus the main research aspects are the development of the wave-based simulation algorithm (the geometrical portion is already thoroughly investigated), we intend to apply the so-called Finite Volume Method for this, and then the hybridization of the two methods into a single simulation algorithm.
And lastly, what are your impressions of living in Denmark? I love living in Copenhagen and Denmark. It’s a lively city, multi-cultural and very inviting. People are friendly and laid back. I find the weather to be quite mild and nice (compared to what I’m used to in Iceland at least!) and I love the biking culture. I’m trying to master the language as well, it’s not the easiest task I’ve undertaken, but hopefully I’ll manage in the end!