Sculpting and dancing under acoustic panels
If you’re performing a task that requires a lot of concentration, reverberations caused by sound hitting hard surfaces is the last thing you need. And this was exactly the problem faced by students at Fluxus, Zaandam’s arts centre. Shortly before the foundation opened its new location in the renovated nineteenth-century Verkade factory, it contacted Merford to find a solution for the poor acoustics in the dance studios and visual arts classrooms. To provide that solution, Merford installed sound-absorbent panels that reduce reverberations without affecting the unique building’s authentic look and feel.
Interior, Offices, Education and healthcare
Located along the Zaan river, the Verkade factory has a long history dating back to 1886. It was originally built by Eric Verkade to produce bread and ‘beschuit’ (a type of Dutch rusk), but the factory grew in the decades that followed and started making tea lights, biscuits, and chocolate. The building was vacated in 2003 and repurposed as a multifunctional building in subsequent years.
Since February 2020, this striking location has also been home to Fluxus, Zaandam’s centre for the arts. Fluxus offers and promotes art education in schools, alongside other activities. It also has a concert venue and facilitates a network of arts teachers, who use the studios and classroom in the Verkade factory for training and teaching, such as dance lessons and painting courses.
A few months before opening, it became clear that many spaces had poor acoustics due to persistent reverberation – quite literally a headache for many teachers, students, and course participants. This was the reason Otto Berg, director of Fluxus, contacted Merford. Whatever the solution, Berg explained that it mustn’t detract from the unique character of the premises and studios, which had often retained the look and feel of the building’s former use.
‘There was a lot of reverberation in the classrooms. However, there were very few walls and ceilings to attach something to that would stop the resonance,’ says Berg from Fluxus, describing the centre’s biggest challenge. ‘But Merford came up with some creative solutions. Their acoustic panels were a curveball, and I’m impressed at how well they work.’
‘Fluxus took care of assembling the panels and fitted the ceilings in several rooms with Flamex, a sound-absorbent melamine foam. We applied an acoustically open coating to the panels in the same colour as the ceilings. That layer of paint barely affects the boards’ acoustic properties,’ says Hans Meerbeek, account manager at Merford. ‘The straight-edged melamine foam wasn’t an option in the studios with vaulted concrete ceilings, so our advice was to install acoustic ceiling islands of the “Silent Office” type. Fluxus selected a colour that really complements the character of the spaces’.