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Striking Acoustic Ceiling Brings Touch of Tonga to Auckland Church

Local architect, Michael O'Sullivan of Bull O'Sullivan Architects, helped create an award-winning architectural piece for the Free Wesleyan Tongan Church in Mangere, Auckland.

The church needed a multi-purpose building capable of housing its community of 60,000 worshippers. With such a large congregation, it was imperative that the building provide exceptional acoustic performance.

Brad Bonnington, Architectural Graduate of Bull O'Sullivan Architecture assisted in the build and explains that the clients wanted "to achieve a consistent level of acoustic performance over such a large volume, created by formed tiles to reflect a layer of frangipanis overhead."

The acoustic ceiling was described by Reverend Frederick Feki as a "frangipani blanket that wraps the guests who walk in with that warm feeling of belonging."

Tongan culture was captured well in the design, with custom-made Autex 3D Ceiling Tiles used to create the frangipani pattern in the massive 46m² and 14m high structure. To do this, the architect custom designed a Polynesian pattern drawn from a traditional Tongan tapa cloth, says Jonathan Mountfort, Autex Engineer.

Mountfort explains that to produce the final result, they "developed a simple repeating element, patterned en masse to create an impressive visual and acoustic ceiling." He adds that the challenge of fitting a modular element to a vaulted ceiling was overcome by creating a flexible tile where some could be trimmed asymmetrically to match the ceiling shape.

3D Ceiling Tiles helped define the stand-out frangipani design and absorb a combination of high speech frequencies and background noise, such as HVAC systems, in the open plan-space. The application of the 3D tiles in such a large volume creates a distinct acoustic quality that enhances the sounds of religious performances at a high volume.

Bonnington says that the Autex products were vital for this project as a unique, custom design was required. "Without any form of acoustic treatment, the voices and sounds of religious performances are lost within such a huge volume," he adds. "We believe it is the most important aspect of any worship space."

By using a bespoke acoustic treatment, Bull O'Sullivan were able to create a major focal point for the project.  

For more information and detail on projects just like this one, contact Autex.

View more information on Autex Acoustics, including contact details.
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