The trend is towards ceiling rafts in a wide range of shapes and colours, in combination with conventional acoustic solutions. They fire architects' imaginations and enable alternative design options for offices and schools. Not only that. At the same time they also improve acoustics, so that students, teachers and office workers can work without stressful noise.
The ceiling specialist from Grafenau in Bavaria produces these design elements in a wide variety of shapes – round, rectangular or even trapezoidal. They can be suspended from the ceiling at different heights using almost invisible steel ropes, so that architects can give rooms an entirely new structure. The colour schemes are also only limited by imagination. The rafts are covered with an acoustic fabric, which can be dyed in almost any colour, or can be printed with designs, for example a cloudy sky.
Ceiling rafts protect office workers, teachers and students from the harmful effects of noise
With ceiling rafts, architects can not only achieve original designs for rooms, they can also optimise the acoustics. "The mineral boards convert a large proportion of sound energy into heat due to friction", explains Raimund Aschenauer, Applications Engineer at Knauf AMF. "This reduces the reverberation time in rooms and makes speech more intelligible." For teachers, pupils and office work, this effect is more than just a luxury. Studies show that constant noise can make people ill. The body produces stress hormones, which cause high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as burnout, hearing damage and throat problems due to having to speak too loudly. Ceiling rafts can provide protection against all these effects of noise.
The fact that ceiling rafts can be easily installed also makes life easier for the drywall builders and therefore ensures high quality work with less effort. Rafts with a format of up to 2.40x1.20 metres are delivered to the construction site in one piece. This eliminates the assembly of individual components. Mounting on the ceiling is also very quick. Aschenauer: "The rafts can be suspended from four points with steel ropes, which enable quick, precise and flexible height adjustment between one and five metres."
Acoustic solution for chain saw manufacturers, aerospace researchers and schools
Ceiling rafts from Knauf AMF are used in the new office building of the German pension insurance agency in Berlin, the canteen of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Brunswick and the development centre of the chain saw manufacturer Stihl in Waiblingen.
Even in the design of classrooms, architects are increasingly using these modern room elements with acoustic functions. For example the designers of the Ursulinum secondary school in Würzburg. They decided on the Thermatex Sonic Arc series to give the school cafeteria an unusual appearance. Concave and convex ceiling rafts are suspended from the ceiling to produce a 3D wave pattern. The fabric coverings and frames are coloured in various shades of grey and white, which harmonise with the colours of the other room elements - for example with the grey concrete pillar in the centre of the room, the white tables and the dark white floor. Red chairs and shelves as well as wooden window frames create colour accents.
As well as appearance, acoustics are very important in the cafeteria. The ceiling rafts reduce the reverberation time and optimise noise levels so that students can talk to each other at the tables. The interior designers have also come up with a lighting concept which structurally harmonises with the ceiling rafts. Narrow lights with the same length as the rafts are suspended between the individual rows to give the impression of a structural unit.
Unusual atmosphere in a school in the Ukraine
The architects of the Novopecherskaya School in the Ukraine also decided on Knauf AMF. In the main auditorium square ceiling rafts are suspended from the ceiling at various heights in a random pattern. This gives a dynamic appearance. Between these, the architects have suspended white lamps at irregular intervals, so that in combination with the chairs in various shades of blue, brightly coloured wall elements and slightly rustic ventilation ducts below the ceiling, the room has a charmingly chaotic atmosphere At the same time, with their acoustic optimising properties, the rafts ensure a short reverberation time and make speech more intelligible, so that more than 150 students can clearly hear the teacher, even on the very last row.
For more sustainability: Ceiling rafts are made from natural raw materials
Ceiling rafts also enable architects to integrate sustainability aspects into the building. Knauf AMF uses natural raw materials from local sources, for example bio-degradable mineral wool, perlite and clay, as well as starch from maize and potatoes for the production of the Thermatex ceiling rafts. The company also does not use environmentally damaging materials such as softening agents, blowing agents, biocides or pigments which contain lead, cadmium of chromium VI compounds.
Thermatex products deliberately combine design and functionality with sustainability aspects. Among other things, this is reflected in the "Blue Angel" seal of quality, the world's oldest (1978) environmental label. As well as this, the processing of exclusively bio-degradable mineral wool which does not pose a risk to health is certified according to the EU regulation 1272/2008 Annex Q and RAL-GZ 388. The stringent fire protection standards which play a decisive role in public buildings are also guaranteed. The ceiling rafts comply with fire reaction class A2-s1,d0 according to DIN EN 13501-1 and are therefore classed as non-flammable.
Economic heating: Ceiling rafts are ideal for concrete core activation
Ceiling rafts are also an ideal acoustic solution if a closed suspended ceiling solution cannot be used. When is this the case? For example, if the architects wish to use so-called concrete core activation - which is an economical method for cooling and heating the building. Here, piping systems with flowing water are used in the reinforcement of the concrete ceiling. This water can absorb heat from the ceiling (cooling effect) or dissipate heat to the ceiling (heating effect). "However, so that the temperature in the room can change, the raw ceiling must not be completely enclosed", explains Aschenauer. Here, ceiling rafts are an ideal alternative to closed suspended ceiling constructions for applications with frequencies from 250 to 2000 Hertz in Group B rooms."
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