One space can be turned into multiple, smaller spaces, whether it is turning a large open plan area into a series of meeting rooms, or sectioning off rest, eat or play areas away from the busy working environment. Operable walls allow a limited transfer of sound from the external office into the smaller individual space.
Customers can choose between glass, or a combination of multiple solid materials including timber veneers, high pressure laminates, 2 pack polyurethane, colour back glass and fabrics face finishes. The choice depends on the look, feel and acoustic environment you are trying to create in the office.
Over our 50+ years in business, Bildspec have supplied operable walls into many high-quality office fit-outs including the likes of BHP, Star Casino, Telstra, KPMG, NIKE, Reserve Bank of Australia, Westpac, QANTAS, Warner Music, DHL as well as many other legal & financial firms, local state and federal governments, and even emergency services.
Noise in an office environment comes most often from four main sources:
• the intrusion of external noise;
• noise generated by building services (such as HVAC systems);
• noise transferred between individual spaces including impact noise;
• control of reverberation times to enhance speech intelligibility.
Apart from creating a flexible space, the operable wall is able to greatly reduce a significant amount of external noise from passing through the operable wall into each of the divided spaces. This reduction of sound is measured in Rw (Weighted Sound Reduction Index). Different combinations of top/bottom seals and board constructions are crucial in the wall’s ability to overcome sound transmission issues.
Furthermore, various face finishes used on the surface of each operable wall can improve the NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient)/reverberation of the space through sound absorption. Careful consideration should be given to choosing face finishes which assist in absorbing the frequencies of speech, referred to as articulate speech frequencies.
In some cases, the allowing the existence of low frequencies may be even be an advantage, as this permits an ambient sound level that can assist the masking background sound (sound to overwhelm that sound which is not absorbed or blocked by acoustical panels).
As acoustic design can be complex, Bildspec recommend using an acoustic engineer or consultant as part of the design process. Such consultants usually stipulate the Rw (acoustic rating) of the operable wall, and can suggest appropriate acoustic material coverings to achieve a desired NRC. This will assist in achieving a well-balanced room with the correct speech intelligibility and background noise levels.