Hyper Island and the creation of BLOCK

You could say that Hyper Island at Telefonplan in Stockholm became a victim of its own popularity. The school moved into its new premises in March 2013, but it took only a few months before it was apparent that the noise levels surged when too many students and too many activities were forced to co-exist in the same place.

The problem is shared with many others who work in open offices, but for Hyper Island it is also a product of the school’s unorthodox way of teaching. Christopher-Robin Eklund, who is responsible for the course Interactive Art Director, says that all work is done in groups and without prescribed reading lists or samples.

- Students work with real projects. Right now we are working with two international clients who wish to remain anonymous and Stockholm Company Atracta. Each one has a problem that we must solve. We get a brief from them and the students will then direct contact with the customer and then they work together to solve the problem.

A case normally takes about four weeks and is focused on how the group works, the dynamics within the group and the group’s effectiveness. A lot of communication is therefore required within the various groups, and when as many as ten groups are working simultaneously in the same room it does not require an excessive imagination to get a clear picture.

Christopher-Robin Eklund describes the acoustic environment as unbearable at times, which makes the work climate inefficient. As a former architectural photographer with a talent for problem solving, he took it upon himself to try to bring about an improvement of the room interiors.

Building modules that can be moved by one person

Since there was no budget for acoustics measures Christopher-Robin started searching the Internet for used sound absorbing screens. But after he came up with lackluster results he contacted Akustikmiljö, and based on a number of given dimensions he asked them to produce a display that would shut out the sound but also to function as a kind of building module. The screens should be as large as possible but not so high that they interfered with the air conditioning in the room and they must also fit inside the elevator and be able to pass through the building’s doorways. In theory, this also meant that they could be moved around by one person, and thus serve as building modules for the occasional breakout rooms.

Based on measures by Christopher-Robin Eklund Akustikmiljö developed a product that had so far been missing on the market: in size a combination of a floor- and desk-absorber which functioned as a screen that was both sound absorbing and reducing. The core of the screen is a 5mm MDF board with a high reduction index surrounded by two 40 mm EcoSUND absorbers which gave it a two-way effect.

What began as a problem that led to a request from a customer eventually culminated in a prototype, which is now a product of Akustikmiljö. The screen is called the BLOCK, a name that in part refers to its ability to prevent unwanted noise propagation, but also to the fact that it builds self-contained units, like blocks, in the open work space.

Useful premises

Christopher-Robin Eklund, Hyper IslandChristopher-Robin Eklund, Hyper Island

Hyper Island is using BLOCK in its two classrooms at Telefonplan, and the situation has improved significantly, and it ‘s not just about the acoustics of the premises. Students can now furnish their own meeting rooms and adjust the size and shape exactly to what the group’s business demands. This flexibility also means that one can choose to both take advantage of the open work space with a large collection area at the projector screen for presentations while each group can have its own small private office.

From Christopher-Robin Eklunds initial starting point when he began looking for quick and cheap solutions on the Internet, the final result became more expensive but the efficiency has been shown to outweigh the increased cost by far.

- It was worth it. The screens allow the premises to be used in a completely different way. The alternative would have been to build glass walls, which had not only cost much more, but also created barriers for our flexible way of working, so in the end BLOCK the most affordable option.

Facts Hyper Island

Hyper Island is a global swedish company that educates people and organizations all over the world; a professional university with programs in digital communication, innovation and leadership, and strategic partner for companies that want to develop their organization commercially and culturally. Hyper Island was founded in Karlskrona 1996 and since its inception, the school has had more than 3 000 students from more than 40 countries. Today the company has about 60 employees and provides training in Mobile Design and Development in Karlskrona; Digital Media and Motion Graphics Designer in Stockholm and Karlskrona; Interactive Art Director, eCommerce Business and Digital Data Strategist in Stockholm; MA Digital Media Management in London and Manchester; MA Digital Media Management in Singapore; and master classes in New York as well.

2010 Hyper Island was awarded with Nationalencyklopedins Kunskapspris in the business category “for or inspiring and innovative knowledge sharing that benefit Sweden’s competitiveness and entrepreneurial spirit”