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ANC Awards – New method for acoustic design of open plan offices

We were delighted to receive an Innovation Award at the Association of Noise Consultants Awards 2019 for our new acoustic design method for open plan offices. As well as the Innovation Award, the work was also “Highly Commended” in the Workplace Acoustics Awards category.

This method also won a Soundscape award at the Palace of Westminster from the Noise Abatement Society.

This method was developed to assess requirements between areas for different types of use, for example a breakout or meeting area impacting on workstations intended for non-collaborative work. It can be used for assessing acoustic requirements within agile (activity-based) working environments, or for the partial refurbishment of more traditional open plan layout concepts with assigned desks. It can be used to identify potential acoustic conflicts, and the acoustic requirements to overcome the conflicts. The requirements can be implemented by layout arrangements or by the use of screens, pods, other means of reducing noise transmission, or by the use of masking sound to reduce the impact; it is not a prescriptive method, but rather encourages a flexible approach to finding solutions.

Breakout space in an open plan office

Existing guidance for the assessment of noise in open plan offices focuses on criteria for the acoustic response of the room.  In contrast, this new method:

  • Represents a paradigm shift by focusing on workers’ acoustic needs in open plan offices and offering a design method to address those needs.
  • Assimilates a novel descriptor for the acoustic environment in open plan offices (Liveliness) with established correlations for the adverse impact of unwanted speech on cognitive tasks.
  • Develops a novel parameter, the in-situ attenuation of speech, which informs the physical requirements.
  • Provides engineering rigour to underpin concepts that are easily understood by non-acousticians.
  • Facilitates clear and consistent communication with the design team to support the open plan office design process.
  • Addresses in-use performance to meet the functional, operational and wellbeing needs of the occupants.

Inspired by the emerging soundscape concept that the individual’s perception of the acoustic environment is key to acoustic satisfaction, the results are easy to communicate and understandable by the wider design team.

“This is completely innovative … this is exactly what the market needs” Yoan Le-Muet, Marketing Director, Saint Gobain Ceilings France;
Convenor of ISO/TC 43/SC 1/WG 65 “Acoustic Quality of Open Office Spaces”

Jack presented this new method at the Acoustics 2019 conference. Find out more here.

Coming soon – Find out about Jack’s involvement on the committee for the new International Standard for acoustic quality of open plan offices, ISO 22955.

Return to Awards, News or Research in Open Plan Offices

Apex Acoustics Ltd Design Works, William St, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE10 0JP Head office: 0191 620 0750 Midlands: 0115 708 0750

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