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CARPETS FOR IMPROVED ROOM ACUSTICS

“Unlike most other floor coverings, textile floor coverings provide a significant level of sound absorption. The Fraunhofer Institute explains that carpets are regarded as porous sound absorbers which achieve effective levels of absorption, especially at higher frequencies.”

There are many good reasons to opt for carpeting in office buildings. Carpets made from Invista’s Antron carpet fibre for example, stand out thanks to their excellent functional and aesthetic properties which are ideal for the contract sector. Carpets are playing an increasingly important role in room acoustics today. A study commissioned by fibre manufacturer Invista and carried out by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) has now shown the impact of textile flooring on sound absorption. This study describes that carpets provide a suitable solution for dealing with noise problems in modern office environments.

The layout of office space is of central importance in our modern knowledge-based society. Ever increasing demands are being put on modern knowledge based work and the employees doing this work. Besides a high level of productivity and the best possible quality, flexibility, mobility and adaptability are also required. To meet these challenges, the best possible spatial and organisational infrastructures are necessary, i.e. office environments which are wholly conducive to work, providing staff with a positive ambience. Flexible office structures with communicative room concepts provide the best solution to meet these requirements according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering.

Room wide comprehensive sound absorption represents an important step towards creating suitable room acoustics. In most office spaces, the floor is the biggest continuous and fixed surface which can be used for these measures according to IAO. Carpets for the workplace have exceptional room-acoustic characteristics compared with hard surfaces such as stone floors, tiles, PVC flooring, parquet flooring or laminates. Unlike most other floor coverings, textile floor coverings provide a significant level of sound absorption. The Fraunhofer Institute explains that carpets are regarded as porous sound absorbers which achieve effective levels of absorption (up to more than 50%), especially at higher frequencies (2,000 to 4,000 Hz). Carpets have also been shown to be effective at reducing the effect of reverberation from footfall sound, especially in large rooms. Besides absorbing sound, textile floor coverings also help to reduce impact sound as well as to provide improved levels of impact-sound insulation. While very hard, rigid floor coverings are particularly good at transmitting impact sound, textile floor coverings such as carpets absorb this sound almost completely according to the accoustic study. Particularly thick, deep-pile carpets can reduce the level of impact sound by up to 40 dB and even flat-woven textile fabrics are still able to reduce the level of impact sound by approximately 20 dB the IAO says. The layout of the work environment is of great importance when it comes to creating innovative and high-quality offices. Here, the floor plays a decisive role as an extremely dominant element, especially in larger office spaces. Studies carried out as part of the joint research project “Office 21” have shown that textile surfaces, for example, have a very positive effect on the well-being of employees and are thus much appreciated by them. This positive spatial and atmospheric effect of textile surfaces has been comprehensively documented within this project. The particular benefits of carpets have been proven by the multidimensional effect of creative quality, acoustic requirements and good room air conditions. Thus the perceived room temperature in a carpeted room may be up to 3 degrees higher than in a room with a smooth floor covering according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering. This not only leads to a greater sense of well-being, but also to a reduction in heating costs. Furthermore, unlike smooth floor coverings, carpets can temporarily absorb fine dust and suspended particles between vacuuming, thus considerably reducing the risk of fine dust accumulating. Carpets are therefore suitable for people who suffer from allergies or asthma.

Moreover, new fibres in conjunction with innovative manufacturing techniques make it possible to produce new designs and combinations of colours and materials never dreamt of before. This creates interesting possibilities for room layouts and a wide range of opportunities for setting up versatile room designs.

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