We have already discussed the growing importance of the acoustic aspect in office design, which has a lot to do with the proliferation of the open-plan style.  This is not just limited to workplaces, but it is also found in homes, refurbished spaces, and commercial spaces, among others.  That’s why more and more professionals are evaluating the acoustic characteristics of materials as well as their aesthetics and durability.  Let’s take a look at those that work best in the fight against noise pollution.

Cork

At BAU 2019, we saw a lot of this eco-efficient material, which is one of the most used at the moment, and which has three strong points: its sustainable and recyclable, and it has a noise isolating quality.

It can be directly obtained from cutting the cork oak or from the recycling of cork stoppers, as seen in the Cork2Cork initiative by the NH Hotel Group.

Wood fibre panels

According to a study, 85% of restaurants and 80% of jobs in Spain do not meet minimum acoustic requirements, says Izaskun Chinchilla in this interview.  “With materials like glass, steel, and stone, sound waves bounce off the walls much more and interfere with each other”.  Slotted wood panel fibres by Finsa are one of the alternatives, as the perforations control reverberation and allow some of the sound to be absorbed.  At the Casa Decor 2017 auditorium, Izasku Chinchilla used these panels to create cells in the ceiling, inspired by church ceilings.

Techo acústico para el auditorio de Casa Decor, diseñado por Izaskun Chinchilla
Acoustic ceiling for the Casa Decor auditorium, designed by Izaskun Chinchilla

During construction

Rockwool, glass fibre, cement brick, expanded polystyrene, phenolic foam – there are several options that can be used during construction as thermal isolating materials in ceilings, walls, and floors.  But they are all excellent noise isolating materials too, thanks to their porosity.

Decorating in silence

Cladding, furniture, lamps – different brands are taking a chance on developing sound-absorbing elements that also incorporate design, or even the option of personalising them, which helps integrate them into their surroundings.  This is the case the Ginkgo acoustic panels, designed by Stone-Designs, which allows you to create thousands of different combinations.

The materials used are usually textiles like wool, felt, and velvet, and new materials like architectural felt, which is made from glass fibres or recycled plastic.

Gingko acoustic panel by Stone Designs

What’s next? Cigarette butts?

La Escuela Politécnica (Polytechnic School) at the University of Extremadura is working on a project that reuses cigarette butt filters as a soundproofing material due to their porous quality.  This new use would help to recycle this waste material, simultaneously solving two environmental problems: noise and pollution.

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