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Red Bull – pS’ architects focusing on light and sound

PRINT Sound absorbing picture

PRINT is a sound absorbent where only your own fantasy sets the limits. Pick your own photo and create a picture, or several pictures, in order to complete image themes for the whole room.

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n 17 November, the winners of the competition for Sweden’s Best-Looking Office 2015 were announced, in which Red Bull’s office in Stockholm won fourth place – beating off record numbers of competitors to do so. The office’s architects are pS Arkitektur and, according to the company’s MD Peter Sahlin – also head architect on this project – the company’s culture is a key concept in their work. This concept encompasses how the company works, how they are organised, what their brand stands for, what they need in order to be able to work in their premises and – not least – where they are heading in the future. At the same time, it’s important not to forget aspects of functionality.

“Having worked with office renovations and reconstructions for over 20 years, we have noticed that light and sound can never be forgotten. The consequences of doing so are a flat, boring, noisy project,” Sahlin explains.

Red Bull’s office is therefore the result of a great understanding of the company culture, and a real attention to functionality. How the company works reflects which acoustics solutions have been used. It’s about finding what’s best for that individual client. “I’m always thinking that the particular challenge of working with offices is finding the right balance of sound level – both high- and low-level frequencies – based on what the company works with,” says Sahlin.

Certain earlier projects had on occasion been demanding acoustically, requiring very controlled sound levels. When they worked on Skype’s office, for example, the reverb times in the meeting room came in at under 0.5 seconds – an incredibly low figure. But as Red Bull use their offices in an entirely different way and also provide a different type of service, the acoustics requirements were completely different. Here, the focus was instead on group work, and how the premises looked and the message that they conveyed were important. Achieving extremely low reverb times was not something they had to prioritise. However, Sahlin says that both he and the client are very satisfied with the sound profile they have created in the office.

They wanted large swathes of the building to have an industrial character, which meant that they opened up the concrete ceiling and gave half of the premises concrete floors. The acoustic discs don’t cover the entire ceiling, so as not to hide the electrical trays and other installations. To achieve good sound absorbency, there is textile flooring in the office spaces and in those areas where more sound insulation is essential. In certain places they have also chosen to put up curtains. Thérèse Svalling, managing architect on the project, recounts that they also used sound absorbents on the walls. By printing images onto them or by selecting specific fabrics, they have been able to get the most out of their acoustic benefits while also obtaining the visual feel they were after.

“I was in contact with Ann-Catrin Björnhede at A.M. Acoustics, she helped me with technical advice, samples, etc. Our collaboration worked really well,” says Svalling.

According to Sahlin, it’s important that solutions such as acoustic curtains or sound absorbents on walls are considered early on in the project, so that they don’t get cut for economic reasons later on. A bonus in the Red Bull project was the availability of images that could be printed onto the absorbents; images which additionally convey something the client would like to get across, something that reflects the company culture.