The Problem
The Department of International Development (DFID) contacted Resonics for an acoustic survey and assessment for their staff canteen and break-out area at their London offices in Whitehall. The café and break area were suffering from a reverberation problem which was caused by a large number of hard surfaces and high ceilings. The result of the reverberant environment was excessive noise levels, lack of privacy and poor speech intelligibility. With the space being used for a number of purposes ranging from café and social area to casual meeting space and staff presentation room, the noise problems made the space unfit for all its intended activities.

The Proposal
Following an acoustic survey which found the reverberation time to be extremely high at 3.34 seconds, Resonics proposed a number of acoustic solutions to be used in conjunction with each other to create the perfect sound environment with an improved reverberation time of 1.2 seconds. Being a period building with original ceiling, cornicing and wall features, the proposal had to not only consider the acoustics of the room but also look at blending and complementing the décor of the space. A mixture of Ecophon Solo panels were proposed in square and circle shapes – hanging circles to be used in the entrance and eating area where the ceiling was busy and featured a large number of spotlights. Solo Square panels were proposed to sit subtly alongside the intricate cornicing in the room. Finally, to ensure absolute sound absorption from all angles, the proposal also included a series of Ecophon Akusto C wall panels that would reduce the problem of sound bouncing and reverberating around the large space.

Our highly skilled acoustic installers have experience of working with a range of room types and in buildings ranging from contemporary to period. The installation at DFID had to be very sympathetic to the period of the Whitehall building and allow for original features to be visible and even complemented. The Solo ceiling panels were installed using steel wire hangers giving a free hanging look which was very clean and simple. The Solo Square panels were installed to fit symmetrically across the ceiling in line with the intricate cornicing. This meant none of the period detail from the cornicing were overshadowed or blocked by the acoustic panels. An Akutex finish in Frost White was used on the exterior of the Solo panels making them blend with the white walls and ceiling already in place. The Akusto Wall panels were also installed in white with a Texona fabric covering.

DFID_Ecophon Akusto Panels

Above: Akusto Wall Panels fitted in the break-out area.

DFID_Ecophon solo Circle

Above: Solo circle Panels fitted in the cafe area.

The Result
Due to the nature of the panels used and the method in which they were installed, each element of the final acoustic solution afforded 90% (Class A) sound absorption. The final result was a highly effective acoustic solution which looked fantastic. Preliminary feedback was very positive with one DFID employee saying:

“First impressions are that the install is very clean and looks like they have always been there. Both of your guys worked tirelessly to get the job done in the time they had and were a credit to Resonics. I look forward to popping in later today when the room is full to see the difference.”