The Qatari reverb
Places of worship put very specific demands on the architecture. This is nothing new, neither for contractors nor for those who set the specifications. But beautiful, sacred structures only function as intended if the acoustical environment is carefully planned – which isn’t always the case.
The large State Mosque in Qatar is an excellent example of what can be accomplished with careful planning. Largely built in marble and with enormous spaces for 20,000 visitors and a prayer hall that can accommodate more than 10,000 persons, this sanctuary was also a gigantic acoustical challenge.
Swedish acoustics consultants from Soliflx, with veteran Jan Setterberg in the lead, were initially commissioned to appraise the technology in the prayer hall, but the assignment was later expanded to embrace appraisal of the acoustics for the entire structure.
“The reverb was astounding, with a time measured at all of nine seconds,” says Jan Setterberg. “Appropriately enough, Fellert and Soliflex have been partners for quite some time, and working together, we managed to get the reverb time down to about four seconds, and this without intruding upon the architect’s original vision for design expression.
“What was decisive however, was the architect’s interest in acoustics. At the first meeting, there were twelve of us, discussing acoustics and good acoustical environments. It was just as unusual as it was… refreshing.”