Working and living in spaces with an industrial look is very popular. Thanks to its factory-like character, the offices of Germany’s leading architect platform www.competitionline.com has maintained its raw appeal. Nevertheless, the high ceilings and smooth surfaces (concrete, screed and glass) posed a challenge in terms of the acoustics. A solution for sound absorption was found, however, using a clever interior design, in which acoustic fabrics from drapilux were a major part.
Prior to its relocation to Friedrichstrasse, Berlin, in November 2018, the publishing house was in much larger offices in an old period building dating back to the nineteenth century, but this also had significant flaws. “The reason for moving offices was to improve the quality of the working space and be able to remain in the same offices over a long-term period”, stated the company’s owner Angelika Fittkau-Blank. We now have 35 members of staff – in offices totalling 365 square metres.
Staff at competitionline write and publish articles on a daily basis about trends and market potential in architecture, more than 30,000 invitations to tender, as well as the results of all architecture competitions held. This requires full concentration which is only possible without ambient noise. However, it is somewhat difficult to achieve in open-plan offices.“ As a result, we took acoustic experts to the site at a very early stage in the development to get advice on how to ensure that rooms varying in size from 30 to 150 square metres would achieve the same acoustic quality,” reported competitionline editor Dirk Bonnkirch. As special ceiling baffles had already been used in the old office, the system was able to be redeployed in the new office. However, this was not sufficient by itself. The acoustics of the room played a significant aspect in room furnishings. “The partitions between the workspaces as well as the curtains, carpets and even some of the lights installed are professional sound absorbers,” explained Tanja Ptacek, editor Results | Customer Services, who was in charge of furnishing the new offices.
The publishing house settled on special, sound-absorbing textiles from drapilux. Acoustic fabrics are classified with sound absorption class A, B, C, D or E in accordance with the German Institute for Standardisation (DIN) EN 11654. They are rated according to sound absorbency. The acoustic requirements of a room determine which class is necessary. drapilux has fabrics spanning all the absorption classes within its product range, which supplement the degree of sound absorbency already in the room. All fabrics have undergone extensive tests to assess their impact on acoustics in a room.
Nonetheless, the textiles not only serve a functional purpose, they must also have an aesthetic appeal. The offices in the publishing house are all in blue-grey shades, and the colours of the carpet in the conference room and meeting rooms have been kept neutral in line with oak window sills and flooring. “We took the conscious decision of putting up pink curtains in a small meeting room as a stark contrast,” said Ptacek. The “pink lounge” thus forms a direct contrast to everywhere else. “The colour not only contrasts nicely with the hard concrete surfaces, the curtains and the soft carpet also create a completely different mood in comparison with the rest of the office,” stated editor Bonnkirch. “Here we intend to create a more intimate and comfortable lounge atmosphere compared to the other rooms, so that employees are encouraged to let their imagination run wild. And the colour contrast is something that can also stimulate the brain in terms of colour, thereby producing a creative break.”
According to Bonnkirch, the room acoustics, indoor climate and interior decor are very popular among the staff, leading to a high-quality working atmosphere – even though the size of the office is 30 per cent smaller than the old one. “When we came to these offices for the very first time, it was virtually impossible to have a decent conversation,” said Bonnkirch. “Now there is absolutely no problem if ten people are working in one area at the same time, and I don’t hear a thing when somebody further back is on the phone.”
Fotos: © Koy+Winkel