Autex Acoustics’ intelligent, sustainable solutions not only integrate into different architectural contexts, they also contribute to greater well-being and performance in working environments.
We all know that good design impacts the body, not only through what we take in with our eyes but through touch, sound and smell too. What you feel in a designed space is paramount to its success. One variable under particular scrutiny today is sound, the levels of which can seriously affect our health and happiness. Indeed, acoustic control is becoming an architectural consideration as essential as good lighting and flow.
A growing understanding of how sound control can improve focus and productivity in the office environment, while raising engagement and retention in educational settings, is prompting a new industry for sophisticated noise-diminishing systems that seamlessly integrate into a building’s design. New Zealand’s Autex Acoustics is one such business, working hand in hand with architects to push sound sculpting into new realms.
‘Good design is not stagnant, it is constantly evolving. We need to get our hands dirty, pushing the limits and testing the boundaries’
A leader in the field globally, Autex Acoustics has a pleasingly circular history. It began its life in 1967 when its founder, David Robinson, arrived to the country from West Yorkshire – historically the home of textile manufacturing in the UK – and started to make jute underfelt for flooring. The business evolved over the years and moved towards acoustic design in 2000, with the aim of making soundproofing accessible and attractive to all.
Firmly established in Australasia, the business, which has remained in the hands of the Robinson family, went on to establish a base in California to serve the US market, and came full circle in 2014, when it returned to Yorkshire to build a European HQ. With manufacturing taking place in the former mill town of Huddersfield, operations in Europe have grown under the directorship of Dan Black. A showroom opened in London in 2019 and an outpost in Germany is in development.
With everything from manufacturing to consultancy services now firmly embedded in the UK, Autex Acoustics is well set up to take its uniquely creative customisation of architectural sound solutions into European projects. The draw here, as in Australasia and America, is an approach that engages architects and designers throughout all stages of a project so that integration is full and complete and sympathetic to the architectural vision.
It is something that is brilliantly exemplified in their collaboration with architects Warren and Mahoney on the design of Auckland’s MediaWorks. Together they created three custom acoustic feature walls for the common areas, and high-performance treatments for the company’s radio studios. Each station’s acoustic wall illustrates its unique personality and embodies a sonic abstraction; anechoic (mustard), noise (crimson), and beats (khaki). The various creative treatments involved Autex Acoustics’ Cube™ acoustic panel being cut up and assembled to create original geometric arrangements, minimising waste while maximising acoustic performance.
The flexible acoustic system Groove is the company’s latest innovative contribution to the world of sound-proofing. Further assisting the customising cause, it is essentially the semi-rigid Cube transformed with precise incisions into malleable panels that can be wrapped or moulded around curved or irregular surfaces. It has been used to encase columns down a hallway, for example, to absorb sound in an area of high foot traffic.
‘Good design is not stagnant; it is constantly evolving,’ says Dan Black, Autex Acoustic’s UK Director. ‘As true believers in the value of good design, we can’t sit still. We need to get our hands dirty, pushing the limits and testing the boundaries.’
For the Australasian side of the business, many of its innovative endeavours have been driven by educational clients, while in Europe, Black has brought Autex Acoustics largely into the world of collaborative office space, working with Spotify and Apple, Wework and the publishing business, Pearsons. Its most recent project is a 54-floor fit-out for London’s City Bank HQ.
With pandemic-prompted video conferencing culture creating a new need for soundproofing solutions in office meeting rooms, the call for innovation in acoustic design continues. ‘No one can predict the future, but we can shape it,’ says Black. ‘We are dedicated to upholding the practice of brainstorming game-changing ideas over after-work beers.’ Who knows what will be next, but with the increased intelligence surrounding our relationship with sound, acoustic design is here to stay. Along, we hope, with the after-work beers.