A design framework for absorption and diffusion panels with sustainable materials



Architectural acoustics has not traditionally had unified design methods that specify acoustical performance, visual appearance, and sustainable material selection, leading to underperforming products that contribute to a waste stream of petro-chemical foam and fiberglass materials. The evolution of design, materials, and manufacturing techniques in recent years has created new opportunities to reimagine acoustic diffusers and absorbers. Previous work by the authors have demonstrated a unifying framework for design and collaboration in architectural acoustics. The framework uses visually-driven computational design method inspired by shape grammars that generate a wide range of acoustic phase grating diffuser arrays that display unique visual and performative qualities. Simulation and evaluation metrics to assess the complexity of each design are rated in terms of their diffusion and absorption coefficients and a visual aesthetic coefficient. This paper extends the framework to include digital fabrication protocols and sustainable material specifications – including the use of fungi-based materials. Built prototypes demonstrate an expanded acoustic design space that gives acousticians the potential to create custom diffuser shapes with precise acoustical response. The innovative combination of computational design methods and sustainable fabrication protocols will be discussed, and the acoustic properties of arrays will be evaluated and compared to simulations of corresponding designs.