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The workplace has changed. Not just the way we work, but the space itself. Walls have come down in anticipation of greater collaboration, and rising costs continue to force more people to work in less area.
Modern offices have therefore moved beyond the cubicle, past the drop ceiling, and into an environment of collaborative surfaces, flex zones, and hybrid spaces – features which regrettably stand in the cross-hairs of poor acoustics: unmitigated noise, distraction, and a complete absence of privacy.
Growing out of a frustration with these conditions, Semios Studios developed the Hatch Series of acoustical canopies in order to stop unwanted noise and to contain that which would be better left private.
It does this by marrying a novel structural solution with an inherently rigid and acoustically absorbent felt. Each Hatch canopy is constructed from a series of flat, CNC-cut louvers that are slatted together perpendicularly along the x and y axis' until they create a strong, open cell structure.
These cavities allow Hatch to trap sound coming from all directions, and to stuff twice as much acoustical material in a space than a comparable flat, horizontal canopy. Moreover, the same open framework allows light and sprinklers to pass through unimpeded, thereby allowing Hatch to be integrated into any space without fear of violating building codes. Owing to our material supplier ezoBord, Hatch canopies are also class A fire rated (ASTM E-84), and made from 100% polyester; 50% of which is recycled soda bottles.
Operating at a scale between architecture and furniture, Hatch employs an intelligent pairing of material and structure, in order to explore new ways of capturing space acoustically.
Designers can no longer predict, or dictate how people will work, whether physical or virtual, or alone or with colleagues, but one tangible element remains: how the physical space is acoustically tuned. Tuning an acoustical space is both art and science, requiring an accurate diagnosis of existing problems in order to prescribe an appropriate quantity and type of material, while integrating it with a design that can live and grow with the space.
Being inherently interested in empirical design strategies; Semios Studios began the design process by outlining the constraints of the open office environment. Any spatial intervention had to maintain existing access to natural light, allow for sprinkler penetration, be easy to install, and made of materials that are both sustainable and class A fire rated (ASTM E-84) . Having these parameters in place created a framework from which Semios Studios could explore the sculptural potential of acoustic canopies.
Looking at traditional acoustical materials/structures led Semios Studios to a partnership with ezoBord, a Canadian manufacturer of a rigid felt board that could act as both structure and acoustical sponge. Being ASTM E-84 A fire rated, made from 50% recycled water bottles, and saw-cuttable, EzoBord became a strategic partner in keeping open offices open.
Starting with an acoustical analysis, designers work backwards from the rt60 time (the time it takes sound to stop echoing in a specific space) to determine the amount of EzoBord necessary to acoustically balance the space. This material quantity, when coupled with the design parameters of the open office, determines the density of the grid, and the depth of each slat. With these parameters, designers can explore sculptural gestures that bring both aesthetic value and performance into the contemporary workplace.