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With the increased integration of digital technology altering our relationship to our working environments, the design development of a meeting pavilion provides an opportunity to expand and explore ideas of privacy and communication and to develop approaches to environments that promote participation and inclusion while providing for the control of both the physical and digital realms.

While the open plan office offers many advantages in spatial flexibility and ease of interaction, the need for visual and acoustic separation for specific tasks, meetings and web-based conferencing is vital. Rather than developing an approach that involved complete spatial and acoustic separation the following design proposal sought to achieve a sense of ‘permeability’ in the modulation of spatial conditions.

The focus of the project involved developing a way of thinking toward interior structures that can shape and control sound, light and air in open plan contemporary office environments. This involved the development of a flexible system for spatial solutions which could be tailored to fit different organisational, programmatic, aesthetic and acoustic circumstances.

To this end, the design proposal is for a cost-effective ‘kit of parts’, a product system that can be accessed by design professionals practicing within the realm of workplace design. The idea is that designers can customise the system’s various elements to adapt to specific situations and needs. The proposal comprises of ideas for two interrelated acoustic spatial systems that are designed to work either together or separately in a range of dynamic ways.

The PERMEABLE WALL system seeks a new approach to the challenges of open planning by transforming sound environments rather than blocking sound transmission. The proposal consists of the arrangement of multiple permeable layers that will attenuate sound while maintaining luminosity and airflow. The design allows for the system to be visually, acoustically and spatially modified through the adjustment of:

  • the plan layout through the configuration of cuvilinear and straight wall sections
  • the density and acoustic absorption of the internal baffling
  • the materiality and colour of both inner baffling and outer fins for optic and acoustic effect
  • the height of baffles and fins relative to site conditions and needs of users
  • the internal fins have LED strip lights concealed with a channel running the length of the
    baffle. This lighting system allows for changes in colour and brightness of the lighting of
    the pavilion both internally and externally
  • the outer fins profiles to create engaging formal qualities, visual interest and acoustic

The wall system will be mounted on a skirt/ cornice/ shadow line section for structural support and for the carrying of electrical and data services

The ACOUSTIC CEILING system acts as sonic device that will be suspended above the meeting area. The ceiling acts to divide the space into a number a clearly defined acoustic zones. The central dome is made from vacuum formed acrylic that acts as a reflective surface which will amplify human voices within a contained sonic field. This amplification will in turn affect human behaviour by causing a reduction in speech volume, which translates as less overall
noise to be attenuated by the permeable walls.

In the centre of the dome a cylindrical LED light fitting is mounted to the ceilings inner ring beam. In this way the dome shape will act as both a sound and light reflector. Focusing the attention of the room to the meeting table below. The outer cone of the ceiling angles back from the central dome and is clad in acoustic absorbent panels. This surface both deflects and reduces sound at the perimeter of the space.

The ceiling is fabricated from a system of lightweight torsion-box segments that are assembled on site. The central void allows air to filter into the space and provides the opportunity to run fire sprinkler services into the semi-enclosed meeting room.

Design Team
Dr Ross McLeod, Senior Lecturer -Team Coordinator, Dr Jordan Lacey, Vice Chancellors Postdoctoral Fellow (A+D)- Soundscape Expert, Ian Nazareth, Research Associate (A+D) -Design Development, Alexandra Doughty – Design Ethnographer, Professor Xiaojun Qiu, Professor of Design (Audio Engineering) – Acoustic Consultant, Kelvin Chai, Master of Architecture student – Design Project Assistant, Hesameddin Mohamed, Master of Architecture student – Design Project Assistant, Ping Yan, Master of Public Art student – Design Project Assistant
Industry Partners
Pierre Lim Fat + Tom Chaney – Quiet Acoustics, Micro-Peforated Panel Manufacturers
Date: 2015
Status: Ongoing