Few companies understand the need for a comfortable and quiet working environment better than Apple. In 2019, their middle east headquarters came to the end of a 5-year development initiative. This is a large space that sees hundreds of workers pass through it each day.
The exclusive office space in Emaar Square, Downtown Dubai, is an example of organization and aesthetics. This huge 13-thousand square-foot space was a challenge to remove noise from. Apple also wanted the ceiling to be accessible for quick maintenance tasks.
Apple chose SAS International to supply the acoustic ceiling tiles. For Apple, the most important function of the tiles is that they are thin and lightweight, with amazing acoustic properties.
Apple chose SAS150 ceiling panels — these are slide and pivot tiles that make access to the void above quick, easy, and clean work.
The SAS150s come in either square or rectangular tiles and come in a range of colors and even anti-microbial coatings. Each tile comes with a polyester powder coat that protects the metal and makes it easier to clean, in this case, white.
1522 is a stock factory pattern and a more common choice for clients. Apple chose 1820 perforation patterns for their SAS150 metal facings, which have 1.8mm holes with a 20% open area. Larger holes mean that more sound pressure gets through to the fleece behind.
“Wide Sound Absorption Holes”
The perforations reduce echo and allow sound to penetrate through the tile and into the sound absorption material behind it. The acoustic fleece on the rear of the panel can also come in different thicknesses. The thickness depends on client specifications, with the standard being 16mm.
Apple employees tend to work odd hours, so the tile needed to be small enough that maintenance work could continue around office staff. The tiles, in this case, are 2×2-feet square (0.6X0.6m) —small and easy to swing out of the way for single-person maintenance procedures.
An NRC rating of 0.5 would mean that half of the noise energy reflects off of the surface of the tile. Decibels, or dB, tells us the power of the sound — this unit increases or decreases on a logarithmic scale. The coveted Noise Reduction Coefficient to reach is a 1.0 — a score of 0.0 NRC would be like talking down the end of a storm drain.
“100% Noise Reduction Coefficient”
SAS managed to achieve a 1.0 NRC with their acoustic tiles in the Apple branch, or 100% sound absorption. These tiles reduced the sound levels by 27 decibels — this is like quietening the sound of a vacuum cleaner down to that of a library.
SAS put in the planning and had the tiles installed by a local contractor in Dubai. SAS gave training and installation advice to the contractor — so that they used the correct procedures to not damage the tiles.
Being a technology company, Apple depends on ongoing maintenance and upgrades to keep them ahead of the competition. And no one wants their confidential talks bouncing down to the other end of the office. Apple’s team now has a workspace where they can concentrate on their work and not the dialogue of others.