This might be the golden age of acoustic panels. Thanks to open-plan offices and industrial warehouse conversions, designers more than ever need ways to absorb sound in large echoey spaces. This week, we focus on acoustic panels that can be applied on or built into walls to make a room quieter.
We talked to Willem Boning from Arup’s SoundLab, who shared with us how challenging it is to design good acoustics for open offices. Historically, the study of acoustics has focused on how to deal with sound coming from one point, like a singer on the stage of a concert hall. Open-plan work-spaces are much more chaotic by comparison, with dozens of talking people scattered around a room. Researchers at Arup are working on building effective models to study how acoustics work in such environments and what products would be best suited to achieve desired effects.