UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Mithuna Maran

Origami inspired foldable acoustic panel for multipurpose spaces

With the increase in population and literacy as per the database of UNICEF 2019, there is a growing need for multi-use spaces across different domains. Due to their access to diverse uses in one place, these spaces can contribute to a community’s vitality. In a work environment, there is a need for open office layouts for employers who want to stimulate workplace productivity, promote teamwork and facilitate innovation. Even university students prefer informal and flexible learning spaces that can adapt to individual and collaborative work. Multipurpose halls are common in most of the community centres as they are used to organise recreational activities and workshops for different age groups.

In all the above three cases, acoustics play a critical role in contributing to workplace well-being. The potential users may belong to various age groups performing various activities, which demands a space to take care of different aural experiences. Therefore, one of the important requirements for a space to provide a good experience in all circumstances, is sound treatment.

Both diffusion and absorption are required to enhance the aural experience of such spaces since the former distributes the echo without extracting the sound energy from space, and the latter is the key treatment where intelligibility is necessary. In places where space is at a premium, fixing an acoustic panel consumes a considerable amount of circulation area. Moreover, the static nature of the bulky panels limits the rooms to a specific use where it is either absorptive or diffusive.

This study is aimed at designing a modular foldable acoustic panel which can be tuned to an absorber or a diffuser, thereby making it suitably effective for different facilities or co-working spaces. Adjustable options create flexible spaces and an adaptable origami design by means of a foldable panel is proposed in this thesis, with its efficiency tested in different room typologies using acoustic simulation and subjective perception.