Kinetic architecture improves acoustic quality of multifunctional spaces.

LAVA and engineering partner Bollinger & Grohmann have developed a ceiling that improves the acoustic performance of multifunctional spaces by varying the amount of exposed absorbent and reflective surfaces.

The design solution is a hanging ceiling of hexagonal aluminum panels with joints that enable freedom of movement. The kinetic sound trap ceiling was designed and installed as a kinetic prototype inside the multi-functional LAVA Stuttgart office.

“Real beauty is always a combination of form and functionality. When function in architecture is not static but constantly changing, the form has to follow. This complexity can only be handled by a close collaboration between interdisciplinary specialists from the first moment. The form, an elegantly curved geometry, is an outcome of the functional and structural requirements,” said Alexander Rieck, director LAVA. “And one that has enormous potential to transform the efficiency of multipurpose spaces of all types.” Different situations require different acoustic qualities. Absorption alone is not sufficient. “The whole ceiling behaves like cloth; by pulling on a limited amount of points we were able to make large deformations on the surface. These points were lifted by a system of wires that can be pulled by a total of six servo motors. We deliberately wanted to keep the amount of servo motors as small as possible and by doing so create a kinetic system that is easy to control and maintain,” added Alexander Rieck.

In practical use, absorbent material is placed above the metal panels and can be exposed by opening a large cut in the middle of the ceiling. When opened, sound waves that enter get trapped and are slowly absorbed by bouncing within the ceiling. When more reflection is required, the ceiling can close. In some scenarios, such as hosting a lecture, shortening the reverberation time by using reflective surfaces with controlled angles can improve the audibility of the speaker for the audience.

In collaborating with LAVA during the design process, acoustic specialists from Bollinger+Grohmann helped prove the ‘sound trap’ concept through the use of acoustic simulation software prior to the prototype’s construction. LAVA’s office space was the perfect place for the investigation – the open space hosts lectures, meetings, parties, and includes an office kitchen and model shop. These different uses are often in conflict when it comes to sound production.  The long space with large concrete surfaces causes longer reverberation times, which decrease the audibility of sound and speech within the open floor plan.

“This situation is replicated in offices, transport terminals, shopping centres, restaurants etc the world over – places where multiple groups of people are using a space for various functions – and our solution has so many applications. LAVA will be looking to apply these concepts to our future projects.” The kinetic prototype was realised during a one-week workshop, the first in a series of events organised by the LAVA-AXON. The purpose of this initiative is to explore new design methods and innovative technologies, connect and transmit information and widen the LAVA network, sharing solutions. The project is a continuation of a previous design study for a kinetic ceiling that LAVA developed in collaboration with Bollinger & Grohmann.

KINETIC SOUND TRAP // Building Process 

VIDEO CREDIT:  Pom Sophakorn