IBM, Bois-Colombes, France

Client: IBM
Type of works: supply of acoustic screens.

The new European headquarters of IBM in Bois-Colombes, France is a modern centre dedicated to technology, innovation and creativity. This spacious and bright new office underlines IBM's commitment to sustainability.

Since 1988, IBM has been located in the Descartes Tower in La Defense, the business district in the west of Paris. Over time this building gradually became inadequate for IBM's organisational needs. Legislation for high-rise buildings would have made it too expensive to refurbish, so they chose to relocate.

The new site in Bois-Colombes, Hauts de Seine consists of five buildings built as a campus around 13,350m2 of green space, giving prominence to space and light.

IBM now occupies three buildings in this office complex, which not only meets environmental concerns, but also illustrates the willingness of the company to develop ways of working and exchanges based on responsibility and autonomy. The construction of new offices was an opportunity to rethink team collaboration. The new open space is seen as the cornerstone of collaborative innovation.

Most workstations are clusters of two and four people, along with open filing modules to optimise space usage.

IBM wanted to focus on ergonomics and acoustics. They wanted to achieve a high degree of acoustic comfort for their staff. To achieve this screens, cupboards and panels are acoustically treated.

Everything was conceived to reduce the environmental footprint of the site and improve the quality of life for employees. Acoustics therefore played a large role in the design of these spaces.

While it is often tempting to rely on simple reverberation time calculations to predict acoustic performance in rooms, it is not always appropriate to only consider this measure. In this case, an acoustic ceiling was specified from the beginning of the project. This controlled the reverberation to a large extent. However, there was a concern about speech privacy and conversational distractions. Since the majority of the wall space was glazing, and a non-acoustic carpet was specified, this left only screening solutions as an opportunity to improve privacy and overall acoustic comfort. The following diagrams illustrate the benefit received by specifying screens, both acoustic and non-acoustic.

The office fit-out is performing as intended. Tenants are able to carry out their work without being disturbed and enjoy the good acoustics provided by the meeting rooms.

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