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Situational Acoustic Design in Action

In the first installment of our two-part series on situational acoustic design, we explored the fundamentals of this exciting design approach. We examined reasons why architects and designers benefit from utilizing situational acoustic design to create spaces that are not only inviting and functional but also cost-effective.

As we’ve seen, situational acoustic design is based on an approach that maximizes utility while minimizing waste by strategically managing sound at the source. Thoughtful placement and unique configurations of acoustic panels create a soundscape that optimizes the functionality of the space for its intended purpose. 

What this means is that not only will stakeholders more effectively manage costs during the build-out of the space by using only essential materials in a highly strategic fashion, but they will also amplify their returns on investment by enhancing occupants’ experience. This includes, for example, using situational acoustic design to create an office space sound environment that supports cognitive performance, creativity, and productivity.

Indeed, situational acoustic design sounds pretty good in theory, and the approach may be even more impressive in practice. Below we describe some recent examples of the implementation of situational acoustic design at school, work, and beyond.

Collaborative Work Spaces

The movers and shakers at Google are now experiencing the power of situational acoustic design for themselves after retrofitting their team work spaces using this approach. The high ceilings and open floor plan create significant ambient noise, including echoes and reverberations, that would make effective collaboration nearly impossible.

Situational Acoustic Design in Action

To serve the purpose for which it was designed, the space required acoustic solutions that would quiet extraneous noises at the source while allowing voices, including multiple simultaneous conversations, to be heard clearly and distinctly by their teams without disturbing others nearby. The solution was the strategic placement of FSorb acoustic ceiling panels directly above discrete team workstations. A simple application of sound-absorbing material with four inches of air behind it provided a twenty-percent improvement in acoustical performance than mounting panels directly on the ceiling would have. This technique allows team members to clearly hear one another without acoustic spillover, which might disturb the work of the teams on either side.

Situational Acoustic Design in Action

Another solution is seen in Thinkspace, where FSorb Silentline Ocean baffles were strategically placed at the optimal height to diffuse and block sound so precisely that those at the same table could clearly be heard while preventing distracting noise from people sitting just a few tables away. At the same time, the kitchen space is livelier without any acoustic materials.

In both situations, the placement pattern of acoustic materials creates zones of sound that ensure that multiple collaborations can occur simultaneously and in the same space without the use of physical barriers to separate teams.

Lecture Halls and Academic Common Areas

Schools and universities can pose a particular challenge because of the diverse purposes these spaces serve. Some areas generate a lot of ambient noise that must be contained in order to prevent noise spillover into surrounding areas. Other areas, however, need solutions that ensure voices can be heard clearly and distinctly, even at a distance.

Situational acoustic design makes such multifunctionality possible through the designer’s choice and placement of acoustic solutions. For example, in a large, open common area, such as a university student union center, Hexagon clouds may be placed directly above tables and couches where students gather to converse and study. These clouds absorb and redirect sound waves down to the surface, enabling users to better hear and understand one another without disturbing others nearby. 

Situational Acoustic Design in Action

Likewise, the installation of Silentline baffles above halls, walkways, and other areas where ambient noise is a problem not only prevents spillover into classrooms and collaborative spaces but it creates a more hushed and soothing soundscape for students. 

Situational Acoustic Design in Action

Large, crowded lecture halls can pose a particularly significant challenge for those in higher education, but situational acoustic design has a remedy for this as well. The answer, once again, rests in the designer’s selection and configuration of materials. 

For example, to ensure that the professor’s voice is heard clearly and distinctly, even at the back of the hall, providing a graduated amount of acoustic products will provide even sound throughout the room. This can be done through the use of absorptive ceiling panels between reflective fins combined with angled upper-level wall absorbers. This allows the speaker's voice to travel evenly, and the result is that students in the back row can hear the lecturer’s voice as clearly and distinctly as those in the front.


Situational Acoustic Design in Action

There’s nothing quite like the experience of dining with loved ones at a favorite restaurant. Sometimes, however, the noise can be overwhelming, and that can ruin the entire experience, from your enjoyment of time with your family and friends to your ability to appreciate the taste of the food.

Situational acoustic design, though, makes it possible to maintain a lively environment while allowing patrons to have an optimal dining experience. The key to situational acoustic design in restaurants lies in ensuring that diners seated at the same table can hear one another clearly and easily without disturbing those at surrounding tables. Placing acoustic ceiling panels above the tables creates separate zones of sound at each, ensuring conversations can be easily heard by everyone at the table, without spilling over to other diners. 

Situational Acoustic Design in Action

Likewise, the suspension of FSorb Quietgrid clouds seen above can optimize sound absorption while complementing the aesthetic of the space. Quietgrid clouds are unique because they use all sides of the acoustic material, while the cells between the material trap and diffuse sound, allowing them to control sound with a mere 25% overall coverage.

Exhibition Halls and Trade Shows

Situational Acoustic Design in Action

There are few spaces more crowded, chaotic, or noisy than trade show exhibition halls. Yet these events can make or break the ambitions of aspiring entrepreneurs, which means that there are few arenas in which budget-friendly situational acoustic design matters more. 

FSorb’s appearance at NeoCon illuminated the reality that situational acoustic design can not only apply to spaces as immense as a concert hall but also those as small as a product display area. For example, in exhibition spaces and trade shows, mobile vertical acoustic panels can be used to create their own zones of sound, amplifying the voices of presenters to audiences in the immediate area without disturbing presenters or spectators nearby. These panels can also be used to absorb and quiet noises around the presentation table, enabling audiences to focus on the display.

Contact FSorb Today

Situational acoustic design is more than a novel approach to sound treatment; it is a necessity for maximizing the utility of the space while reducing costs and minimizing waste. FSorb is an industry leader in acoustic design innovation and is proud to offer a vast array of customizable solutions to meet every need in situational acoustic design. Contact your FSorb representative today to discuss how FSorb can make your design goals a reality.



At FSorb, we are motivated by improving human health and do so by creating eco-friendly acoustic products. Our mission is to help designers build beautiful spaces that reduce excess ambient noise while calming the human nervous system. With over 25 years in the acoustic business we stand behind FSorb as a durable, environmentally friendly, and low-cost product. If you want an acoustic solution that is safe to human health at an affordable price, then we are your resource.

(844) 313-7672


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