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Building Your Primal Room

by Peter Coldwell

I have been a patient at the Primal Institute for 2 1/2 years. I have designed, built and been a consultant in the construction of over 75 primal rooms including all of the therapy rooms at the Primal Institute.

The following article contains some very useful information on building a primal room. Parts, plans and building instructions for the primal "box" used in Los Angeles can be obtained by writing me at 1034 Tiffany Rd, Belmont, VT, 05730. The cost is $50 for the booklet and plans for construction.

Ideally, it is best to have your feelings anywhere, at anytime. Therefore, for those of us living in an urban environment, a primal room is close to a necessity. In general, a primal room provides a safe place in which to have your feelings without disturbing your neighbors and offering protection from bodily injury during feeling. It must be adequately soundproof and padded.

The size of the room is largely dependent upon personal reference and budget. Because of expense, most patients here order rooms only large enough to sit up in and approximately five feet wide by seven feet long on the inside. It is called a primal "box" rather than a room.

The effect of sound waves through air is not unlike a stone dropped into a pond. These waves can be divided into higher and lower frequencies. Higher frequencies are easily absorbed by any porous material; such as, cotton (including mattresses), hair (including carpeting), fiberglass, rock wool, cellulose products ("sound board" and acoustical tile), and polyurethane foam, etc. The more air pockets per cubic inch, the better the sound absorbency. The most important factor governing the transmission of lower frequency sound is mass or dead weight.

For example, in Hollywood, the recording studios use a lead wall between adjacent recording chambers. Materials with a high density (lbs./cu. ft.); such as, sand, bricks, metal and dense wood should be used.

The standard method of sound control used in housing is the double wall where two walls are separated by an air space. The sound insulating value of this type of construction depends slightly on the width of the air space between the walls but mainly on the degree to which the walls do not touch each other.

This.effect can be achieved also by building a room within a room where the only points of contact are the floors. The primal room can be designed in independent sections in order to be portable. This room of itself need not be totally soundproof since maximum noise reduction will result from the combination of both rooms.

This method is ideal when you are not allowed to change the existing structure of the building. The construction of any primal room must be very accurate in order to be air-tight, Wherever air leaks, sound will leak. Avoid leaky doors. It is best to use some type of gasket (weather stripping, etc.) between the sections.

Since we are interested in padding, plus sound absorption, I find polyurethane foam to be the most practical material to use. The denser and finer celled, the better. Depending upon the rigidity of the foam, thicknesses of 4 to 6 inches should be used.

Particle board (wood chips glued together under tremendous pressure) is relatively inexpensive and quite dense (45 lbs./cu. ft.). The heavier, the better: therefore, use the industrial rather than the underlayment grade. Depending upon the size of the room, 2x2's or 2x3's can be used to back up the particle board.

When selecting a fabric to cover the foam, it is important to consider the coarseness of the fabric. A coarse weave will give you a burn when you hit it, Also the closer the weave, the less likely perspiration will penetrate the fabric and be absorbed by the foam. The best method of attaching the fabric to the foam is with an adhesive applied with a paint roller. This gives the fabric a resilient mounting. An all-purpose, brushable neoprene-base contact cement works well with most fabrics. A word of cautionmost adhesives are very flammable and toxic. It is best to wear a respirator with a filter for organic vapors.

Unless your primal room is regular room size, you will need some type of forced ventilation. There are a variety of fans and blowers on the market that can be used. The best source is a surplus electronic supply store. I use both an intake and an exhaust fan in each room. The size hole you cut will depend upon the type of fan or blower you select. To prevent a chill, locate the holes as close to the ceiling as possible. You can avoid an irritating droning sound by mounting the fans resiliently (on springs, foam, rubber, etc.). Most of the sound passing through the ventilation system can be eliminated by making an "L" or "U" shaped duct for the air. The duct must be lined with at least one inch of foam or fiberglass.

This completes the basic information you need to build your primal room.

Photos of Primal Boxes

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