Case Study: coloured sound-absorbing panels for Whirlpool, Milan
At the beginning of 2017, the world leader in the household appliance sector, Whirlpool Corporate, inaugurated the brand-new facilities of its new headquarters near Milan.
A futuristic change of place, carried out in the name of innovation for the 600 employees of Whirlpool EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) that moved from the green landscape of Lake of Varese to the modern “glass palace” of Pero, one the symbols of the organization of Expo Milan 2015, now became the EMEA headquarters of the American multinational corporation, which employs more than 6,000 people throughout the Italian territory.
The challenge of the acoustic treatment of Whirlpool’s headquarters was a real challenge, since it is a vast 12,000 m2 building spread over five floors, mainly characterized by a modern glass, steel and iron structure, elements that promote the propagation of a significant echo effect and generate reverberation problems, causing considerable acoustic discomfort.
The stakes were double, firstly the architectural characteristics of the places required a specific treatment of acoustic reverberation on the glass surfaces to reduce noise pollution, and secondly, the company’s desire was to make the change of workplace for the 600 employees a pleasant event. It was therefore a matter of implementing an aesthetic, personalized and differentiated acoustic solution for every work environment of the company, to make the “glass palace” warm and welcoming and to avoid as much as possible the sensation of a cold, impersonal and noisy place.
The in-depth study of the needs and requests of Whirlpool, conducted jointly with the architects in charge of the project development, led us to propose the development of customized acoustic solutions, combining the technical performance in terms of acoustic correction of our panels, with the aesthetic dimension and the decoration of the spaces to be treated.
Our goal was therefore to maximize the acoustic comfort of the offices, integrating it at the same time with the interior design project, making coloured sound-absorbing panels a characteristic element of the project as a whole.
To this end, we chose to integrate the lighting with the acoustic panels by incorporating the lighting fixtures based on LED technology, provided with very high Colour Rendering Index, with specific Colour Temperatures and light power, according to specific scenic choices, simulated in the project phase.
This effective synergy of lighting and acoustics thus makes the environment of every working space immediately more pleasant and comfortable, and at the same time considerably reduces acoustic reverberation.
Secondly, the choice made with the architects focused on a customization of the spaces, giving each floor a shade of three different colours and choosing the shapes and dimensions of the panels so as to integrate harmoniously with the furniture and the specific intended use of each floor.
Some specific areas, such as the cafeteria-refectory particularly exposed to environmental noise, have been the subject of a 360º customization combining acoustic treatment, lighting and decoration, in order to promote quiet and rest during coffee breaks or at the time of the lunch break of employees as external visitors.
The result of this collaboration was the development of a circular acoustic panel with integrated lighting, in three different diameters, but also a large rectangular panel for a better harmonization with each space. Each of the five floors has a range of custom colours and each floor has been set up with coloured sound-absorbing panels, depending on the dimensions of the three circular panels.
By working closely with the architects and integrating the design of the places into the acoustic project, we have been able to develop a high-performance and fully customized product, thus obtaining a tailor-made acoustic solution for Whirlpool, which promotes a quiet and peaceful acoustic environment, for the professional well-being of employees and for greater comfort in the new headquarters of the multinational.
Product: GoodVibes and Lunar acoustic panels