Do you spend most of your time in the office trying to do quiet focused work? Does the deficiency of speech privacy bother you? If your answer to these questions is yes then you’ve definitely come across the right article. According to a study conducted by the Center for the built environment (CBE) at the University of California in 2003, as many as 72% office workers are dissatisfied with the speech privacy in their work place. One of the most efficacious methods for achieving speech privacy is the use of Balanced Acoustical Design approach, consisting of the following three key components, which are also referred to as the ABC’s of Balanced Acoustical Designs.
Absorb: Absorption of sound by using high performance acoustical ceilings.
Block: Blocking sound transmission through effective sound absorbing partition walls and furniture panels.
Cover: Covering of the remaining intruding sound with an evenly distributed electronic sound masking system.
Coming down to the practical application of these methods the most prolific technique is the use of metal and wood ceilings.
Metal has become popular because of its sophistication, durability and aesthetics, however metal needs to be perforated and back loaded in order to achieve good sound absorption. These perforations may vary in size depending on the aesthetic appeal, although today there are micro perforated panels which are designed to be essentially invisible.
Wood ceilings are perceived as stylish and elegant as they impart a warm ambiance to a space, even when used with a standard suspension system and standard light fixtures. Perforated versions perform better than non perforated ones, and can be used in a variety of finishes and sizes as compared to metal.
Acoustics of High Ceilings
High ceilings provide better acoustical performance than low ceilings due to the longer paths sound must travel, which impacts all sound, whether it is a voice intruding from an adjacent office, or sound radiating down from the ceiling plane. However the best advantage that high ceilings offer is the allowance of a wide range of ceiling panels.
When choosing light fixtures, especially for an open plan office, it is critical to minimize sound reflection off the surface of the fixtures. Therefore for open plan applications, pendant light fixtures are a much better choice.
Clouds/Canopies/ Sound Baffles
Clouds & Canopies provide a larger surface area for sound absorption, as they absorb sound from the back and front both. Acoustic Clouds are visually flat while Acoustic Canopies are curved. They provide a type of interrupted ceiling and help control reflections between cubicles and distant reverberation noise, thus reducing occupant distractions.
Sound Baffles are devices which reduce the strength of airborne sound, reverberation and noise. They can be used in different shapes, sizes and colours, and can be hung vertically or horizontally according to the project requirement.
A Balanced Acoustical Design consisting of high performance acoustical ceilings and walls to absorb, block, and cover sound is an easy and economical way to increase the Privacy Index (PI) of a space, which boosts employee satisfaction and increases workplace effectiveness, allowing them to work in a more comfortable environment.