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Décortech Acoustic Ceiling Brings Warmth of Timber to Te Ara ­Ātea

Located just twenty minutes south of Christchurch, Rolleston is one of the fastest growing suburbs in New Zealand. The latest addition to the town, Te Ara Ātea or the Rolleston Library and Community Centre, provides a much needed space for arts and culture, and is a first step by the council in developing the Rolleston Town Centre. Architects Warren and Mahoney specified civic-quality, trusted materials for the project, including Décortech Firesafe MDF for Te Ara Ātea’s striking geometric ceiling.

The design of Te Ara Ātea has been informed by the cultural history and landscape of the region which extends from Selwyn, right up to Arthurs Pass. For the interior, the design team drew on the natural warmth of timber to create a welcoming aesthetic. “We wanted to create material warmth so timber was a natural solution,” says Tim Hervey, Project Architect, Warren and Mahoney Christchurch. Use of timber was particularly important for softening the look of the expansive ceiling which mirrors the angular form of the roof above.

The design team were familiar with Décortech’s product range and technical expertise, but what led them to being a front-runner for the project was their history of complex projects and ability to assist early in the concept stage. “What we needed was a proven track record,” explains Tim. “We could see that Décortech had done big complex jobs and can deliver. And they could answer technical queries and engage in the concept stage before tender. As designers, that is quite important to us for a complex ceiling like this.”

Over 700 Décortech Firesafe MDF panels in black with American Oak crown cut veneer were specified for the expansive ceiling, with custom perforations following the acoustic engineer’s precise requirements. Décortech hand selected over 300 layons for the veneer to provide a level of cohesiveness while still subtly showcasing the variation of colour and grain that natural timber offers. The black MDF of the panels provided the contrast the design team desired for the perforated timber ceiling, while delivering a Group 1-S fire rating — easily exceeding the Group 2 rating required.

A key advantage of working with Décortech is that they are able to provide a high level of customisation to meet project requirements. In the case of Te Ara Ātea, Décortech provided the panels with custom 25mm hole perforations — a specification they’d never supplied before. Placement of perforations was also customised to achieve the cleanest look possible for the complex ceiling.

“As it’s an angular folded ceiling, it’s quite busy in its geometry, so one thing we were concerned about was having panel cuts and perforations making it look too busy,” explains Tim. “Décortech were able to tell us the minimum distance a perforation could be to the edge of the panel, so we could create perforations that ran continuously across the whole surface of the ceiling.” This customisation ensured a cohesive look for the ceiling and was useful in obscuring access panels which are concealed within the ceiling.

Warren and Mahoney also took this more detailed approach for light fittings, where they were able to create a margin around each light panel in order to avoid cutting into the perforations. “Just being able to do that lifts the quality a little bit for this key civic space in the town,” says Tim.

The end result is a stunning ceiling that brings warmth and detail to the space. “We’re impressed with the service Décortech offered,” says Tim. “It goes back to that idea of it being a civic building — that extra quality in what they were able to achieve.”

View more information on Décortech, including contact details.
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June 2022 EBOSSNOW Case Studies

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