The architects imposed a strict pattern for the fabric ceiling, because their design provided for precisely sized pipework and ducting allowing the full height of the plenum space to be visible through the Strato knit. Artificial lighting hanging 30 cm above the open knit ceiling obviously lends a three-dimensional appearance to the structure. However the impression of cosiness that the area exudes, is also produced by the acoustic quality of the installation. Firstly, the frames of the Strato modules are fitted with sound absorbing foam which achieve a coefficient of around 0.15. Secondly, a thick layer of absorbent black flocking was applied under the roof to mute the echo that untreated concrete would have generated.
Specifying this modular fabric ceiling was not an easy matter. Compared to the initial metallic solution, the fabric ceiling had several advantages in its favour. The product is perfectly hygienic, not electrostatic, it doesn’t hold dust and is easily cleaned, so it was rational to specify it for a healthcare and treatment centre. The mechanical strength of the knitted fabric and the simplicity of the zipper openings enabling the fabric to be pulled back for service personnel to insert their head up into the plenum space, were plus points for maintenance staff, who were surprised by the ease with which the large, light modules could be handled. It was however the safety department that really put the ceiling through its paces to ensure that Strato would not hinder the evacuation of smoke in the event of fire. A full-scale test was demanded and carried out, proving that the large open-knit fabric was no obstruction to warm smoke. The modules carefully hung by installers Berriot Linselle were not blown out of place by the powerful smoke extractor fans. The product ended up ticking all the verification boxes.