As well as dominating the skyline of London’s financial district with its striking 23-sided glass façade, 22 Bishopsgate has not only rewritten the rules of what a modern office space should look like but also how it sounds.
Having become a ‘mecca’ for workplace wellbeing, putting individuals and employees at the heart of its design, it was important that the spaces sounded as good as they looked. With acoustics playing a leading role in delivering overall comfort to a space, partnering interior design studios DesignLSM and The Morris Project turned to experts, Oscar Acoustics, to control sound levels within its buzzing food and dining area - ‘The Market’ for pitch-perfect ambience.
Known as the ‘foodie heart’ of 22 Bishopsgate, its selection of bustling food counters makes it a hub for workers looking to drink coffee, take lunch breaks and host meetings. However, being a lively, open hospitality space, the clink of cutlery and energetic conversation would mean that the café space was at risk of excessively high noise levels, which left unchecked would create an uncomfortable drinking and dining experience for guests.
Karen Taylor, DesignLSM’s lead designer, said: “Providing a healthy environment that would enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of those working in the building was a top priority when designing the 20,000sq ft space. The building itself includes triple-glazed windows to reduce outside noise, but it was important that the internal acoustics were just as well considered to compliment the sense of balance and harmony throughout.
“As a multi-purpose space, The Market area is a dynamic part of the building where the Bishopsgate community can unwind, dine and socialise. Whilst the area needed to have a spirited ‘buzz’ to it, there would also be guests that wanted to relax and recharge, and therefore considering the people and their needs was always at the forefront of our design strategy.”
As The Market includes an array of hard surfaces such as tables and chairs in-line with its open dining aesthetic, a solution was needed to counteract noise reverberation and echo, which causes sound levels to climb. To remedy this, Adnitt Acoustics, who were appointed to undertake the acoustic design of the space, turned to Oscar Acoustics’ SonaSpray acoustic spray range. Once applied to ceilings or walls the seamless acoustic finish absorbs sound energy instead of reflecting it, enabling designers to create serene and inviting spaces. In this case, SonaSpray fcx acoustic plaster finish was used to reduce overall noise for a more calming atmosphere.
With strict building deadlines and restrictions to adhere to, SonaSpray was also chosen for its efficiency as it can be applied quickly with minimum disruption, allowing work to continue as promptly as possible.
Importantly, it was Oscar Acoustics’ third-party safety certifications that caught the eye of Chris Turner, Principal Consultant at Adnitt Acoustics. With such a large building to consider, fire safety had to be a number one priority. With fire credentials that go above and beyond Approved Document B fire requirements (Class 0 to BS476 & B-s1, d0 fire rating), the SonaSpray range produces little to no smoke and absolutely no droplets – which can assist in the safe escape of occupants should an event occur.
As the first building in the UK to apply for the WELL Building Standard, the premium acoustic spray was a perfect fit due its contributions towards many sustainable design and health certification systems including WELL, BREEAM, SKA, Living Building Challenge and adds up to 17 points towards the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating of a project. It also boasts GREENGUARD Gold certification which shows it has met some of the world’s most rigorous and comprehensive standards for low emissions of VOCs into indoor air, aiding in the creation of healthier indoor environments.
Turner said: “The space had some very specific acoustic requirements to reduce disturbance to the users of the office building. As the Market is located at the top of a two-storey atrium space and open to the first floor and ground floor, it required a solution which could absorb sound rather than using partitions or barriers to stop the sound escaping. To do so required sophisticated acoustic modelling and working with products which we knew could achieve the desired result. Having previously worked with Oscar Acoustics, we knew that their products are particularly effective at achieving reverberation control and associated sound reductions”
Ben Hancock managing director at Oscar Acoustics, said: “22 Bishopsgate has raised the bar in office design and it’s a real feather in our cap to be part of such a pioneering and monumental building.
“When we were approached about the project, we jumped at the chance. The design ethos of 22 Bishopsgate aligns closely with our own values – putting employee wellness and comfort above all else.
“It’s clear that our experience working on some of the UK's biggest office refurbishments has been put into action, encapsulating future thinking around work/life balance, to create a dining destination that offers maximum comfort without comprising on design.
“We know from our own independent research that excessive levels of noise are a major deterrent for workers who want to embrace hybrid working – but this building proves that if handled correctly, it’s possible to create a space where employees want to revisit time and time again.”
Photos. Jonathan Banks