Changing rooms are often a meeting point before and after sports activities where the atmosphere and noise level can be very high.
Open areas encourage conversation at a distance, which results in people tending to raise their voices, trying to be heard over others. Sound breeds sound, creating a disturbing "cocktail of noise".
Hard surface materials create problematic sound amplification and sound propagation. The sound is transported a long way and so disturbs a large number of people.
Hard flooring creates noisy footsteps.
Building codes and standards
For changing rooms and showers, Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) recommends an unoccupied mid frequency (Tmf) reverberation time of <1.5 seconds. (N.B. ancillary spaces are recommendations only).
Swedish Standard 02 52 68 recommends a reverberation time of 0.6 or 0.8 seconds, depending on the selected quality level for the changing rooms. This applies to normally furnished but unoccupied rooms. The above figure is the highest recommended value for the frequency range 250 - 4,000 Hz. At 125 Hz a value 20% higher is permitted.