VISUALLY EXPLOSIVE, ACOUSTICALLY SUBDUED
Early in 2014, global engineering powerhouse Aecom moved into new offices in Pretoria, South Africa. With more than 10,000 employees worldwide, Aecom is consistently ranked at the top of Engineering News Record’s Top 500 Design Firms, and has been named one of the World’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune magazine for the last two years. The new working environment for the Pretoria team includes several Ecophon solutions throughout the facility, but the most impressive part of the building is without any doubt the atrium. Originally just an entrance, Aecom decided that the space could be used as a dining and lounge area as well.
Designing with sound absorbing materials
Architect Kobus Kunz wanted to explore the effects of an explosion and how it could be translated both visually and practically. The result is a complex but visually stunning installation of Ecophon Solo Square and Ecophon Solo Baffle in a combination of standard and custom sizes.
“As high noise levels were expected, the design needed to include absorbing materials."
- Kobus Kunz, Architect at Hofman and Partners.
Precision installation at a dizzying height
While the panels themselves are simple to install, the scale of the atrium and the complexity of the design required focus and precision. In total, around 252 wire hangers were used to install 220 Ecophon panels. The scaffolding used for the installation was more than 50 feet (15 meters) high. To make the impressive installation look and function perfectly meant a lot of precision work and minuscule attention to details when lining up panels horizontally and vertically.
Improved acoustic conditions
The end result looks fabulous and the acoustic conditions have definitely improved. The long reverberation time has been reduced dramatically and the Ecophon solutions have made a huge difference to the noise levels as well. Greg Mocké, the Ecophon architectural sales manager on the project explains, “When talking to the architect in one corner of the atrium, we could not overhear the installer who was standing 15 meters away from us, also having a conversation.” Aecom Senior Manager Kevin James adds, “The acoustic installation has improved the working conditions and we often receive comments on how quiet the various spaces are in the office. The clarity and intelligibility of speech have also improved dramatically.”
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