A customised ceiling was installed in the Braunstone meeting room of the new Rockfon Training Centre in Northamptonshire, England, in an effort to introduce sound insulation and improve speech intelligibility. The Braunstone meeting room is spacious – 12m x 6m – and is used for training courses, practical workshops, events, and meetings where 30 people can comfortably sit around the large boardroom-type table.
Besides the meeting room acoustics, the bespoke design was also an opportunity to showcase the versatility of Rockfon products across ceiling design and was conceptualised as a unique focal point. Certified Rockfon Mono Acoustic installer, PANARC Interior Solutions, installed the ceiling solutions – which included both Rockfon Mono Acoustic and Rockfon Color-all, in addition to a series of Rockfon Canva Wall panels on one side of the meeting room.
Acoustic Challenges in the Meeting Room
The team had two practical acoustic challenges to solve for the meeting room:
- Resistance to the noise of rain impacting on the roof above
- Ensuring good speech intelligibility for everyone in the room
Located on the first floor of a business unit, the absence of a continuous suspended ceiling would offer limited resistance to the noise of rain impacting on the lightweight roof construction. Thus, good sound insulation was needed. In a meeting room with 30 people, it’s crucial that everyone can hear and understand what is being said. The walls are plasterboard lined, and the room has a 5-metre-long window overlooking the training area, which could result in sound wave reflections between the two parallel surfaces. Therefore, sound absorption was necessary to reduce reverberation times and enhance speech intelligibility.
Bespoke Meeting Room Ceiling Design
“We chose a ‘classic’ boardroom layout featuring one large conference table where the whole team could meet, plan, and brainstorm ideas. We had recently worked with a major architects’ practice for a bespoke, seamless floating island in their boardroom in Dublin and thought something similar would work well for us in Daventry”, said Nigel Watkins, Commercial Director at Rockfon for the UK & Ireland.
The solution was the creation of a feature custom-made Mono Acoustic Island suspended below a wall-to-wall suspended ceiling. The tiles used in the suspended ceiling are Rockfon Color-all dB46 1200mm x 600mm in the Stone colour. They are 50mm thick composite tiles made from two layers of ROCKWOOL stone wool with a sandwiched high-performance membrane in between. The tiles have excellent performance; they dramatically reduce both impact noise and airborne noise transmission as well as provide Class A sound absorption – the highest possible. The pale grey stone-coloured tiles provide a sufficient colour contrast to make the bespoke Mono Acoustic design really stand out, whilst recessed downlights were installed around the perimeter of the space to provide ambient lighting.
The tiles were installed on a grid comprising Rockfon Chicago Metallic System 6000 main runners with a galvanised finish and stone coloured 600mm long cross tees. The high loadbearing capacity of the grid would enable sufficient suspension points for the bespoke island.
Matt Willemsen, Associate at Spatial Future Architects (now practicing with Gensler), designed the Rockfon Mono Acoustic island as a single, undulating figure of eight shape in white, with two separate circular islands suspended below, positioned in the centre of the ceiling. The appearance is smooth and seamless, while also providing Class A sound absorption.
“The original brief aimed to push the typical boundaries of the product’s material capabilities, demonstrating high levels of artistic flexibility and technical performance in a truly bespoke arrangement”, said Willemsen. “The challenging double curve achieved through the ‘figure of eight’ plan layout and the convex profile aims to disperse and absorb sound while the lower islands provide the opportunity for soft feature lighting in a halo on the inner bends of the ‘eight’. Developing this concept with the client and installer has been a personally enjoyable experience and is testament to Rockfon’s creative ethos”.
In addition to the continuous ceiling and the feature Mono Acoustic ceiling island, several Rockfon Canva acoustic wall panels, in a variety of sizes and colours, were used to further enhance the room acoustics of the space.
Developing a Robust Methodology for the Installation Process
The initial task involved crafting the metal frame for the islands. “Before commencing on-site work, we premanufactured C channels to match the correct radii of the curves in the figure of eight. On the first day on-site, our primary objective was to set out and measure all the metal components on the floor”, explained George Fernberg, Business Development Manager at PANARC.
The metal components were:
- Prefabricated 25 x 38mm curved C channels
- Rockfon Nonius suspension hangers
- Rockfon Mono 1200mm Omega cross channels
- Rockfon System 6000 suspension clamp brackets
- Curved E50 perimeter upstand trims
“We placed the curved C-channels on the floor to mark and install suspension hangers onto the existing ceiling grid using Rockfon suspension clamp brackets”, he added. “Afterwards, the curved C-channels were installed on Rockfon Nonius suspension hangers at 300mm intervals to create the ceiling form. Sections of Rockfon Omega cross channels were then added to the C channels at 200mm centres to complete the metal frame ready for the Rockfon Mono Acoustic panels”.
The next task was to install the Rockfon Mono Acoustic panels, sized 1800 x 1200 x 40mm, to form the complex shape. Using a utility knife, PANARC cut the panels into triangular shaped sections to allow them to be curved and installed onto the Rockfon grid using 50mm screws and Rockfon Mono Acoustic washers. Perimeter Upstand trims preformed to the correct radii of the ceiling were then fitted onto the ceiling to create the sweeping curves.
As certified Rockfon Mono Acoustic Installers, PANARC followed the established methodology for installing the product. The panels are taped, jointed, sanded, and sprayed over the course of three days, ensuring that the ceiling curves and radii were maintained.
“Overall, this project was very technical and required a lot of thought and a robust methodology. However, we worked closely with Rockfon throughout and were confident of delivering this exceptional feature ceiling”, reflected Fernberg.