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Building Products December 2017

COMMERCIAL INTERIOR MOTIVES Sight and hearing are inextricably linked in the perception of our surroundings, our wellbeing and how well we can perform in a space. As such, considering these senses is crucial when designing commercial and office interiors. Here, Paige Hodsman, Ecophon office concept developer, looks at how activity based acoustic design can help ensure the most appropriate acoustic treatment to bring out the best in the workforce. Why do we need to address Establish exactly who will be using the space The next stage is to consider the people undertaking these activities and their needs. Understand the number of people using the space, their age and whether they have any special needs. This will all contribute to the correct specification. Give consideration to the space itself The final stage is to consider the building itself, whether the space is big or small, where it’s situated and what’s adjacent, above and below it. Also, take into account what surfaces are used; there may be hard surfaces such as concrete walls and ceilings. Checking for additional sound sources, such as fans or projectors, will also affect the specification. Acoustic options that maximise visual impact Analysis completed, the appropriate acoustic treatment, such as acoustic ceiling and wall panels, can be used to control the reflection, propagation and reverberation of sound within the space, helping to create acoustic comfort as well as visual interest. DECEMBER 2017 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 18 acoustics and interior design? Poor acoustics can significantly impact on the wellbeing of building occupants. For commercial buildings, particularly offices, this can decrease employee productivity levels and job satisfaction, not to mention raising the number of sick days taken. In fact, good office acoustics can potentially impact in many positive ways; reducing adrenaline levels by 30% and improving task motivation by 60%. It can also improve performance during concentration demanding tasks by up to 50% and mental arithmetic performance by 20%. The open-plan design of modern office spaces can produce multiple acoustical challenges, such as combating intrusive noise from other people’s conversations, telephones ringing and machines humming. Unwanted noise is estimated to cause workers to lose as much as 24 days’ productivity a year. There is a clear argument for ensuring good acoustics in offices and positive steps have certainly been taken with specific acoustic recommendations and regulations introduced to protect employees’ hearing. In addition to this, it is possible to have the added benefit of a great aesthetical finish. In fact, vibrant colour in the office doesn’t just change mood; it has been found to have a profound impact on productivity. A vibrant medley of stimulating hues increases output and sparks creativity. For effective acoustics and aesthetics, a designer must first define the project’s needs from three perspectives – activity, people and space. good office acoustics can impact in many positive ways Assess what kind of activities will take place Determine which activities will take place within the space and agree the occupants’ sound preferences. For example, establish the profile for concentrated versus collaborative tasks. Identify whether it’s a phone intensive environment, get to know the culture of the team working within the space and assess how important confidentiality is. Continued on page 20 >>>


Building Products December 2017
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