The days of over-crowded, echoing offices are coming to end as office furniture manufacturers develop innovative acoustic architecture with integrated technology to greatly help create private and social meeting spaces within the open-plan office. Just how is this being achieved?

One of the very practical space defining solutions visiting the market in 2011 may be the Meeting Pod. Offering unlimited potential uses, Meeting Pods provide a perfect way to create, use space and improve privacy in a open-plan area, while giving offices the flexibleness to move screens around and section off individual areas. Affordable, in they are mobile and may be set up anywhere within any office to produce a quiet area, Meeting Pods can absorb sound to make certain total acoustic privacy and discretion. The cost of a meeting pod is just a once off cost and there’s no continuous monthly rent, so renting more floor space is a higher priced option if you don’t have the budget. Screen pods are modular and may be put into if you ever want to increase its size in the future.

In 1987, the urban sociologist, Ray Oldenburg, stated that, if the very first place was home and the next place was work, then third places are areas that ought to be social and community orientated. It is with this in mind that the Hive Acoustic Sofa by Roger Webb Associates has been designed. A modular sofa with integrated technology, the Hive Sofa is one of numerous high-backed sofas visiting the market that aims to produce a third space within any office environment. Those employing a highback sofa end up in a secluded place, struggling to be heard or seen from the outside. The acoustic qualities of these office sofas work to produce a peaceful oasis for workers and, by pushing two high-backed sofas together, a ‘room-within-a-room’ effect may be achieved. Acoustic wall panels

But the development of acoustic architecture in the modern day office doesn’t stop at clever furniture. Today, open-plan offices also can take advantage of acoustic wall panels. Designed specifically to reduce echo and reverberation, but additionally used as decorative wall features in boardrooms, receptions, restaurants or homes, acoustic wall panels have been described as 3D wallpaper and can be found in a selection of colours and designs. Apr├Ęs Furniture has complete some large installations of acoustic panelling for corporate receptions and also offers a unique sound absorbing decorative screen made from moulded fibre felt. Now that’s what we call in the 21st century.

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