The architect’s view

Architect Arnaud Guirao, co-founder of Moon Safari architecture and urban planning talks about his experience, when using Stereo, Stereo Air and Strato. In his view, using ceilings to also handle acoustics was a major technical and aesthetic opportunity for this project. 

When you think about ceilings, what comes to mind? 

With ceilings you have to take a lot into account. They are ideal for using sound-absorbing materials in a project, because the floors and walls are often mostly taken, but ceilings have a lot going on. Most of the time, technical networks run above ceilings, especially HVAC, and lighting is installed there along with a number of pretty ugly devices, such as fire extinguishers, presence detectors, and so on. And ceilings are very visible. Up to just a short while ago, when we had to hide the MEP and incorporate sound-absorbing materials to make the volumes more pleasant to live in, we had little to choose from apart from installing continuous swathes of 60 cm-square fibre ceiling tiles that covered literally everything. They weren’t great to look at, especially since we had to set up access hatches in them. They also appeared outdated, especially compared to the latest architectural trends. One option is to adopt almost complete building reality and show everything, and your ceiling is nothing more than the underside of the upper floor and pretends to be nothing else, which still requires acoustic attenuation. The other is to strive for complete purity in the rooms, by deciding to hide everything. Unfortunately, there are very few high-quality solutions that enable us technically to achieve this, while integrating lights, HVAC, electrics, etc. The Texaa ceiling solutions for handling acoustic challenges are really compelling. They are high-quality, well designed and effective. 

How do use the Stereo, Stereo Air and Strato system in your projects? 

In our office meeting room, for example, we wanted a single ceiling finish, but we had to build casing around the HVAC system to reduce the disturbing ambient noise as much as possible.  We then installed a Strato ceiling at the same height as the casing with a gap around the periphery of the ceiling. This allowed air to circulate in the space above the ceiling and in the room via the open-mesh areas. The gap was a great way for us to use standard products to build an island with all the added advantages of islands. We were also able to make savings on lighting by positioning unattractive but effective lights above the open-mesh of the Stereo Air panels. So, the solution generated cost savings too. We chose very neutral colours, which makes the finish highly elegant. We have used the full range of colours available in other projects, especially for the refurbishment of Kedge Business School in Bordeaux to match the coloured pixels that we designed for the facades. 


So, to sum up, as an architect, what main qualities of the  Stereo, Stereo Air and Strato system do you use it for?

For us the system is designed to provide intelligent solutions for all the constraints that come with ceilings, both in technical terms and with regard to the finished appearance. And in terms of the simplicity of the system too. We can use it like a toolbox to build complete ceilings or islands or a mix of the two. The way Stereo and Stereo Air panels can be combined gives us great freedom to conceal or show everything or selected areas only. It enables us to manage our projects better and at different scales: we can design islands over work or meeting areas, or above walkways, for example, but we can also use the system to build a complete floating ceiling with gaps around all four sides in order to position it just right inside the volume. Not only that, we can allow for maintenance also. We do a lot of work in overall building performance projects providing design and installation. In this type of service, it is essential to include maintenance constraints. With islands, it is very easy to maintain technical systems. If we design a complete ceiling using Strato, maintenance is also really easy to design in. And the panels give a very regular appearance when viewed from below, which is really cool for us: that smooth undersurface with no rough edges, even with different shades of the same colour. The fabric finish is really elegant. 

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