How many times have you said “the cafe looks good … but you can’t hear a thing!”

This is the problem that is faced by thousands of cafes all around the world. It is also reflective of one of the fundamental problems facing architects and designers today. How do they trade off the requirements of aesthetics and acoustics? How can they design for the ears as well as the eyes?

This is exactly the problem faced by Voila Café in the country town of Colac in the beautiful countryside in the state of Victoria, south west of Melbourne. They had a space that they wanted to make look more beautiful as well as make quiet.

This challenge was handed to Angela Baldwin Interior Design.

Colac is in the heart of the tourist region of country Victoria, in close proximity to the Grampians, situated on the edge of Lake Colac, Geelong to the east, Warrnambool to the west and the world famous great ocean road to the south. South of the town, on the way to the coast, is Otway forest. Colac is in a beautiful part of the world.

When you’re in such a beautiful location, addressing the acoustic limitations of a cafe has to be done sensitively. It needs to be done in such a way that aesthetics are still maintained. This is when the designers turned to Acoufelt.

“Through thought leadership, Acoufelt develops innovations that help to eliminate the trade-off between designing for the ear and designing for the eye. Acoufelt has a range of panels that feature QuietPrint™, printing at high resolution with no substantial impact on the acoustic performance of the base material.”

The designer wanted to feature a photograph of the trees from the nearby Otway forest. Towering California redwoods planted over 100 years ago now create a unique environment that gives character to the town of Colac and the designers wanted to make this a feature of the solution for the café.

They turned to photographer David B. Simmonds to capture the image. The composition of the forest canopy viewed from the forest floor provided deep structural geometry from the tree trunks. David had to lay on his back in the forest for hours to secure the perfect photograph … and that he did!

The image was printed onto an acoustic panel at a 2.4m x 1.2m scale which was attached to a central wall in the café. This enhanced the café décor, connected the café interior with Otway’s Californian Redwood Forest and, above all, helped the interior designer with the task of Making Quiet.

“Acoufelt is all about Making Quiet™. We do this through holistic solutions based on our Acoustic FWC™ philosophy. Acoufelt sees every room as a cube with six sides. Each side of the cube, the floor, four walls and the ceiling, can either reverberate noise or become an integral part of the solution.”

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