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Mastering the Convergence of Biophilic and Resimercial Design


By Grace Henry on November 12, 2021

Wood ceiling applications present a wealth of on-trend design opportunities.

Has the need for biophilic design ever been greater?

In pre-pandemic times it was estimated that we already spent 90% of our time indoors. Today? It’s probably north of that. Small wonder that so much design thought is given to daylighting, plant life, natural materials, and other ways to enhance indoor space with nature.

Evidence abounds that workplaces which incorporate biophilic design return higher levels of staff productivity and engagement. That, combined with the growing trend of resimercial office design, challenges architects and designers to incorporate warmth into a work space.

Kroger Field Continuous Linear Plank
© Chris Phebus

Our Solid Wood Linear Planks in the color Warm Oak offers a breathable ceiling with great acoustical performance at Kroger Field, University of Kentucky. Photographed by © Chris Phebus.

A good place to start: the ceiling. Today, a revolution in ceiling design brings the natural appeal and beauty of wood to ceiling tiles, grilles, planks, panels, matrices, beams, baffles, and canopies. You name the wood species, finish, and texture. Ceilings never looked so good.

New Design Options
Standing at the intersection of this material and design transformation is CertainTeed’s Jim Church. As the sales manager for Decoustics, a leading name in high-performance acoustical ceiling panels, wall panels, and systems, Church has a unique perspective on rapidly evolving ceiling design.
Ohio CAT & Ohio Peterbilt Headquarters
Studio 66 LLC

Ohio Cat & Ohio Peterbilt Headquarters installed our wood lay-in panels for excellent sound absorption and cross hatch tile design. Photographed by © Studio 66 LLC.

“The ceiling is a major focal point. The days of flat, static ceilings are giving way to lively three-dimensional effects. Architects are bringing a new, more sophisticated, and nature-based design vocabulary to ceiling applications without sacrificing acoustical requirements,” Church says. “Bold shapes, depths, and irregular geometries offer wood presentations that reflect a biophilic sensibility.”

Signature Focus

Firms like Gensler, Perkins and Will, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, NAC Architecture, SmithGroup, and RMTA, among others, have long embraced wood to create signature architectural features.

Church says that “managing the reality of natural materials” is an important consideration throughout the design and specification process. “Rendering a design concept is often photo-realistic today. But is it fair to compare the natural variations in a material like wood to a computer-generated image? Probably not.”

Clear Vision

“You’re dealing with veneers, coatings, finishes, colors, budget, FSC certification, installation, delivery schedules, veneer cuts, fire ratings, and, of course, acoustic performance. There are many variables. The key is to recognize that and start the design and specification conversation early,” Church says. “There are many ways to achieve a vision.”

golf_ile_de_soeurs_cross_piece_grille_maple_wood_veneer_decoustics (1).jpg
© Stephane Brugger

Our Decoustics Cross Piece Linear Grille installed in Golf Ile de Soeurs, Montreal, QC offers an effortless transition from the exterior to the interior. Photography by Stephane Brugger.

For example, consider how wood effectively manages acoustic requirements. One technique uses CNC technology to laser-perforate wood with .55-millimeter holes, helping absorb sound waves. With nearly any acoustic preparation you implement, even large holes or grooves, the beauty of wood always survives. “People look beyond acoustical augmentation,” Church says.

Speed & Certainty

Church’s colleague, Robert Hartogsveld, a business development manager for CertainTeed Architectural Products, offers one more tip when specifying a biophilic-friendly ceiling: “Architects want answers fast,” he says. “You may know your budget, project requirements, and design. What are your options? Team up with a company that can advise you with speed and confidence. You may be pleasantly surprised by the result.”

Learn more about how the natural warmth and beauty of a wood ceiling can enhance your next project.

Originally Published by The Journal of The American Institute of Architects:

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