A BCO (British Council for Offices) and Savills report was commissioned to look at What Workers Want from their office workplace. It identified and ranked the top non-locational features that make up the ideal workplace, which included occupant comfort, temperature, general noise levels and the quality of the fit-out. The report highlighted that the relationship between office fit-out, employee comfort and staff productivity are easy wins for both occupiers and landlords
The change in the working environment to cater for open plan spaces, flexible working and new technology through to team working are just a few examples of factors that need consideration in a commercial office space which have impacted on noise levels in recent years. Occupant comfort, particularly acoustics, is becoming more important in the design and performance of offices. Productivity of staff
is directly affected if this issue is not considered at early design stage.
Particularly in commercial office projects it is important to consider occupant comfort through acoustics and temperature.
Sound attenuation performance for partitioning is measured by the level of sound passing through the system and must be considered in relation to surrounding elements. Sound can escape from ceiling and floor voids, gaps around partitions, ductwork, column claddings, partial and full penetrations and blind boxes.
Quality of installation and integration with other building elements has the greatest affect on acoustic performance of the partitioning system. The specification of ceiling and acoustic infill will affect room-to-room attenuation levels. Ceilings installed on a module design will make it easier to install partitioning and to manage acoustics. At Brent Civic Centre for example, acoustic attenuators were installed in the partitioning system to manage acoustics and enable natural ventilation through partitioning.
In the BCO’s guide to specification it states that good quality, modular perforated metal ceilings are preferred. Metal ceiling solutions provide building tenants with value, offering a high quality, long lasting sustainable finish. They offer an inert and inherently hardwearing surface, making metal ceiling systems both hygienic and requiring little ongoing maintenance. They allow for service integration and accessibility for ongoing maintenance and cleaning. Acoustic demands in interiors can be met through the specification of the correct combination of perforations and acoustic pads in metal ceiling systems.
Working with a manufacturer at design stage can ensure a high performing product is also design-led. At a recent project in London, SAS International designed and manufactured acoustic ceilings and partitioning. In addition, the open plan offices have been subdivided using full height glass screens, improving privacy between departments while still allowing natural light to flow through.
It is also crucial to consider the performance of integrating doors. Frameless or sliding doors may meet design intent, however, they can reduce acoustic performance. Installing a glass door drop seal on a glass partitioning door can also increase dB.
By working with an integrated interior products manufacturer, clients and specifiers are able to meet occupant comfort demands by combining interior fit-out solutions to best enhance the environment, helping to improve staff motivation and productivity while providing long-term value.
The interior of a shopping centre also needs to provide long-term value to attract new tenants and keep customers returning. Here, durability of the interior must be balanced with aesthetics.
In the award winning One New Change, bespoke metal ceiling panels were produced with an expanded metal mesh finished in silver, red and black.
SAS International worked with the architect at very early stage of the project to respond to specific requirements for the arcade ceiling design.
Working with lighting consultant Speirs and Major, Sidell Gibson Architects developed the maximum perforation percentage for the tiles required to achieve the specified lighting level. The expanded metal mesh also contributed to achieving the acoustic performance specified.
In retail centres, open cell metal panels are often specified for ceilings as they allow for fire detection and control systems in these large, open spaces. Air conditioning and other services can also be located within the ceiling void. In this project, the mesh fulfils the same requirements for handling fire and smoke, and allows the luminaires to diffuse light through the ceiling to create a softer luminance.
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