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Acoustics in Banks & Open Plan Spaces

August 15, 2017

As opposed to olden times, nowadays we make fewer trips to the bank, namely due to the growing popularity of online banking. However, on many occasions a physical appearance before our account manager is necessary. In many banks, we not only struggle to hear what is being said, but we become acutely aware that others can listen into what should be a private conversation. No one wants to experience the embarrassment of talking about late payments or credit issues in front of others.

Additionally, modern interiors and work psychology have introduced the open plan offices in many environments. As a result, the acoustics inside banks and other institutions are becoming more dreadful due to sound reflecting off glass windows, marble floor and hard reflective wall surfaces. Subsequently, trying to have a confidential conversation in such an echo generating space is – for all practical purposes – frustrating. There are also other areas in a bank such as credit manager offices, administration areas and boardrooms that require various levels of privacy. What’s more, the waiting areas usually become the start for large queues at peak times of the day, adding to the general noise of the whole building interior.

On that account, properly designing the acoustics of open spaces is known to have a great impact on personal well-being. Hence, it is becoming a priority in the advanced architectural designs for today’s institutions.

Open-plan rooms

The acoustic planning of an open-plan area requires taking into consideration a number of factors, such as:

  • location of work stations or sections
  • choice of sound-absorbing ceiling
  • design of furnishings (furniture, screens, wall panels)
  • silent / private areas
  • floor surface
  • work methodology and technical aids
  • background noise

Free-hanging units for noise reduction

Have you ever looked at the ceiling in a bank, large exhibition area, or shopping center and noticed many vertical hanging units of different shapes and colours? These free hanging units or horizontal acoustic islands do a perfect job when it comes to sound absorption. All you need is an sound-absorbing textile covering the aluminum frame, and inside an acoustic fiberglass core or fleece. Simple to install with cable suspensions, they can reflect any color and design by printing on the textile with sound absorbing properties such as Akutex or Silencio.

Predominantly, sound baffles such as the Soundleaves designs made with Akutex, or Silencio 5, are ideal for noisy environments. These noise-reducing elements should be close to busy locations to achieve optimal conditions for speech recognition and communication, concentration or peace of mind. For instance, reception and information counters or refreshment areas, or waiting sections included in larger, noisy spaces.

When the ceiling space has limitations, acoustic islands are one way of creating acceptable acoustic environments. Where free-hanging units are used to improve poor acoustics, absorbent islands – round shapes placed strategically above a working area, give the benefit of diffraction effects. Nevertheless, using both solutions is optimal to increase sound absorbing properties where necessary. On top of that, the horizontally suspended islands mitigate noise while being quite decorative.

Benefits of free-hanging units

  • Better speech and listening comfort
  • Less stress and stress-related symptoms
  • Less vocal effort
  • Easier to concentrate

Finally, if a workplace is near reflecting walls, we recommend using wall panels made with DESCOR Premium Acoustic for sound absorption as a complement to the free-hanging units.


M&P Team via Acoustic Bulletin

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