The architects of the STABILO CUBE used green-coloured “Heradesign superfine” acoustic boards from Knauf AMF. About 100 employees from the Marketing and Sales departments of the international writing instrument manufacturer work in an excellent acoustic environment in the new STABILO CUBE administration building. This is made possible by the use of Heradesign acoustic boards from the ceiling specialist Knauf AMF. The architectural highlight: The boards are coloured bright green, reminiscent of the famous highlighters. However, this is not the only special feature. During their school days, training and study, almost everyone has used highlighters. It is also very likely that these were made by STABILO, which has sold more than 2 billion of them since the market launch in 1971.
With the inauguration of the STABILO CUBE, a distinctive black cube at the headquarters in Heroldsberg in Franconia, the family business Schwan-STABILO celebrated its 160th anniversary last year. The former pencil manufacturer from Nuremberg has long since become a successful global group with three independent business divisions: Cosmetics, Writing Instruments and Outdoor, with annual sales of more than 600 million Euro and approx. 46000 employees. The 15.5 million Euro new building for the Writing Instruments division combines innovative design with an ecologically sustainable concept, modern working areas, a computing centre and a STABILO brand shop under a single roof.
The acoustic challenge: a large atrium and open-plan offices
The building provides space for about 100 employees for creative work outside of the norm. The three upper floors house open-plan offices and communication areas with sofas and seating groups, which are connected by a common atrium and a bright orange steel stairway, whose colour scheme was designed according to the rules of Feng-Shui. The fact that quiet working is possible without acoustic chaos is due to a feature designed by the Cologne architects mvarchitekt + starkearchitektur. Namely, the creative team mounted 250 square metres of acoustic boards on the wall adjacent to the stairway.
“Heradesign superfine” boards are used for the wall cladding. These are single layer wood wool acoustic boards from the ceiling specialist Knauf AMF, which are predestined for use in interiors and covered outdoor areas and reduce the noise level in the atrium of the STABILO CUBE. How? They do this by converting most of the sound energy into heat by means of friction and only reflect a small proportion of the sound.
Knauf AMF uses a special trick to make this conversion particularly effective: The company is the only manufacturer in the world which bonds the Wood Wool acoustic boards with the mineral magnesite, and not with cement as its competitors do. “This results in 15 percent higher and especially fast sound absorption”, explains Thomas Wölfer, Property Manager South at Knauf AMF. The level of an initial signal is reduced by 60 decibels in only 0.4 seconds.” The result: The sound level reduces and the concentration of the staff increases.
No stress due to noise: Acoustic boards create a healthy environment
This acoustic optimisation is anything but a luxury. A large number of studies have shown that in many cases, employees in open-plan offices are exposed to a noise level of above 95 decibels for several hours per day – which is almost as loud as a circular saw or a discotheque (100 dB). This has a detrimental effect on employees. The consequences of the continuous noise smog include burn-out, hearing damage, and throat problems due to speaking too loudly. Wölfer: “With our wall cladding we were able to make a contribution to a healthy working environment for our employees.”
Bright colours: Acoustic boards coloured in the traditional highlighter green
The acoustic panels not only create a pleasant, quiet atmosphere – they also blend in with the architects’ colour scheme. What is also quite unusual: The walls, ceilings and corridors have the traditional bright colours of STABILO BOSS highlighters – in green yellow, red, orange and blue. Because of this, Knauf AMF coloured the wall boards green (NCS 2080-G20Y). Wölfer: “The natural texture of the wood wool with a fibre width of one millimetre is an ideal surface for creative colour schemes.” In general, an enormous range of colours is available. “Customers can select almost any colour from common colours systems such as RAL, NCS, BS or StoColor, as well as from a wide range of special colours.” But don’t employees in the STABILO CUBE suffer from colour overkill? No, because the architects cooperated with a Feng-Shui consultant to ensure sufficient white areas to balance this.
Unique in the industry: The installation direction changes with every second acoustic board
Knauf AMF did not just have to cater for the colour scheme of the Cologne architects. To provide even greater visual variety, the 600×1200 millimetre acoustic boards, each with a weight of 11.3 kilogrammes, switch their direction from vertical to horizontal with every second board. “This presented us with a great challenge, because no precedents for such a special installation exist in the industry”, says Wölfer.
How did the Knauf AMF experts solve this? With metal mounting rails screwed to the wall. These have a top hat section which is inserted in the groove around the Wood Wool board. Unobtrusive: With this, the entire fastening system is invisible – no screws or rails can be seen. There is only a five millimetre gap between the individual boards. “Invisibility of the mounting system was very important to the architects”, remembers Wölfer. “The staff passes close to the boards every day on the large stairway. Screws would have been much more conspicuous than in projects in which the acoustic boards are mounted on the ceiling, several metres above the floor.”