Human beings are designed to notice noise and scan distant and close sounds. A bustling club or street market can be inspiring and enjoyable, but when we are trying to concentrate on an important task, noise can be disruptive. A common problem in open plan offices and commercial settings, we help clients solve the problems of acoustics to create more enjoyable spaces.
Unfortunately we have no control over how a building has been constructed. How noisy a space is depends on the types of materials used in construction and the science of how sound travels and interacts with surfaces around it.
An interior with polished concrete floors, smooth, plaster ceilings and walls, can be very noisy, unless it is modified with sound insulating materials during the fitout. That's where a good design, quality products and skilled builders can help.
How To Reduce Noise In An Open Plan Office
Imagine a typical open plan office with people talking and moving around. Sound travels upwards, hitting the ceiling and the walls, bouncing off and travelling back down again. If the ceiling and walls are solid and smooth, the sound will bounce off, reverberating in the space. With lots of conversations, there will be a lot of sound moving around, making it more difficult to hear close conversations, and harder to concentrate.
The science of acoustics can measure the amount of noise in a space and give a rating for sound insulating products. Working with acoustics involves:
- Measuring the Reverberation Time (RT) (i.e. the length of time a sound reverberates).
- Selecting sound insulating materials with an appropriate Alpha W.
The solution to dealing with any space that is noisy is to begin by:
- Understanding how sound interacts with the surrounding surfaces in a space.
- Treating the most problematic surfaces with appropriate materials.
Acoustic Office Walls
Most walls in buildings are made from concrete, brick or glass, which allow sound to bounce off and reverberate. The solution is to cover walls with a sound insulating and absorbing material, like foam, which is soft and light.
Sound insulating wall art, wall panels and screens come in a range of styles. From wrap around panels that attach to a desk, office partitions, ceiling hung screens and large mobile walls, there are lots of options that not only reduce noise, but also work as design features.
The team at Affordable Fitouts completed an office fitout for a new shared office business in South Yarra. Shared offices are great for collaboration, but need to be designed carefully, with acoustics in mind. The project was designed with open plan work areas, and private offices for concentration. Full height, heavily insulated partition walls were installed to create privacy and sound insulating partitions were used on all desks to dampen sound in communal areas.
Acoustic Office Ceiling Panels
One of the best ways to improve sound reverberation is to install a suspended ceiling. Suspended ceiling panels and acoustic tiles come in a range of colours and are easily installed on ceilings to dampen sound. Used in different colour and shape combinations, they also work as a design feature. Acoustic ceiling panels for restaurants are a common solution for creating a more pleasant dining experience.
Gyms and fitness studios are usually large, noisy spaces. Fitted with durable, hard wearing floors and walls, ceilings become the focus for improving acoustics. Affordable Fitouts assisted Anytime Fitness to refurbish their gym, which included providing a new look for their sound insulating ceiling tiles.
Baffles & Clouds
When you're next in a large commercial space look up at the ceiling and you may be surprised by what you see. Often featuring what look like suspended sculptures, made from soft materials, they're actually sound insulating baffles or clouds that are working to reduce noise.
If you love great design then baffles will get you excited about sound insulation. Coming in a range of shapes, materials and colours, they add personality and design flair in a space, while they're doing an important job to dampen noise. Used over communal work areas, some styles even double as housing for lights. Clouds work the same as baffles. They're longer and shaped more like a cloud.
Floors can have a significant effect on acoustics. Concrete and timber floors echo, while carpet muffles and dampens the sounds in a space. Installing carpet is an easy way to improve noise levels.
The Affordable Fitouts team recently completed a project for Jetts in Cranbourne West, located on the first floor. To counteract sound travelling through the floor to the offices below, an acoustic report recommended the floor be built up and heavily insulated to meet regulations. This was achieved using a combination of timber, rubber and insulation.
Other Acoustic Solutions
Plant walls are a great way to bring life into a space, improve air quality and also help to counteract a noisy office or restaurant. They are also fairly inexpensive and easy to install, compared to some other solutions.
Bringing It Together In A Fitout
In most fitouts, walls, floors and ceilings all receive some type of acoustic treatment - particularly in offices. In some cases, free standing partitions and furniture with extra sound insulating properties are also added. Affordable Fitouts are experienced builders and installers of all types of acoustic solutions in offices and commercial settings.
Get in touch
Do you need an experienced fitout company to help improve the acoustics in your office, restaurant or business? We're happy to have a chat about your project.