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When Meredith Connell (MC) appointed Jasmax as lead designers for its new 230-person Auckland workplace, Autex Acoustics® was chosen to supply the specialist acoustics products for its rigorous acoustic design. By delivering on all ten principles of the WELL programme—which includes exceeding the required sound comfort levels for the interior—the MC Centre is now only the second organisation in Aotearoa to receive WELL v2™ pre-certification from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). It has also earned six Green Stars from the New Zealand Green Building Council.
Specialist acoustic advice and product design
‘The WELL standard is focused on the well-being of occupants,’ says Aidan Hill, Technical and Sustainability Manager at Autex Acoustics. ‘Sound levels need to be much lower than “normal” for better concentration, and so people can hear each other speak more clearly to reduce stress. Acoustic comfort has all these secondary effects on people’s well-being and therefore productivity levels, which is why it is such a key pillar of the WELL standard. We’ve supported a lot of these fit-outs overseas and have a WELL Accredited Professional on staff, so it’s great to see this standard coming to New Zealand.’
Acoustic comfort is achieved when the environment controls excess noise that might invoke negative effects, and the environment facilitates effective communication and speech privacy. To ensure spaces at MC met the criteria for WELL certification, our team proposed highly sound-absorptive surfaces to reduce reverberation time. ‘Specifying Autex Acoustics products and working with the Autex team was seamless through the WELL certification process,’ says Jasmax Senior Interior Designer Anna Manson.
In addition to performing their functional role, the acoustic products have also enabled Jasmax to customise the design according to the needs of each space and the MC branding, making the sound absorption solution integral to the design. ‘With colour, pattern, printing and shape customisations, architects and designers have a wider choice and they can create unique solutions for each project,’ says Aidan.
Acoustic solutions for sound reverberation
Soundproofing not only enables people to hear one another, reducing overall stress, but also ensures privacy. As MC managing partner Steve Haszard explains, ‘Our 160 lawyers are dealing with some of the most sensitive criminal matters in New Zealand, and there must be no possibility of anything being overheard even within our office. Sound security is essential to us. In addition, we need absolute sound clarity within our secure spaces.’
Jasmax worked with Agile Engineering to develop acoustic requirements for each space. To meet these, they approached Autex Acoustics for the specialist sound absorption products required. ‘For a one-of-a-kind space such as MC, we required customisable and high-performing yet sustainable products, which Autex Acoustics was able to deliver,’ says Anna.
Autex 3D Ceiling Tiles in grey feature on the ceilings of concentration and collaboration spaces, differentiating these spaces from the open-plan office through their design and colour. Groove is used in meeting rooms, office spaces and breakout rooms to bring softness and comfort to enclosed spaces.
For the MC fit-out, biophilic design was part of the WELL solution, where nature is brought inside—literally in a living terrarium, which features 1,600 plants across a variety of species – and also in gesture through colour and pattern. Cube™ acoustic panels in the colour Gherkin feature in the ceiling design of the terrarium and are applied to the walls behind the feature timber battens to reflect the colour and feeling of the native bush. The sensory experience is also enhanced by a higher ratio of oxygen in the air, the air is cooler, the lighting is subdued, and sounds of the forest are played to provide a replication of the natural world.
For the meeting rooms, prints by New Zealand textile designer Emma Hayes have been printed onto the Cube wall panel to ‘bring colour and movement into those spaces,’ explains Anna. With local production flexibility, designers can have artful surfaces and still achieve the acoustic performance required in each space.
MC’s Steve Haszard confirms a successful outcome: ‘During Covid, the courts went online. Yet, to my knowledge, there was not a single issue raised by the judiciary, opposing counsel or anyone else connected to an MC secure meeting room—and Autex Acoustics technology was a major part of our court work being as unaffected as possible during lockdown.’