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Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Designed by Edward Cullinan architects, the new wing of the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens includes a Herbarium (home to more than 7 million dried plant specimens), library, office space, meeting and training rooms, archives and decontamination facilities.

Due to the nature of the building, in order to meet the client's brief to protect the specimens and prevent pest outbreaks, a limited pallet of materials was used and most of the surfaces for walls and floors were hard finishes. Leaving the ceilings to handle acoustic absorption.

The main building incorporates a vaulted roof with an exposed concrete soffit, a key feature to be showcased. The project required a suspended ceiling system that would work alongside this challenging design, providing high levels of acoustic absorption and achieving the desired aesthetic.

The StoSilent Panel acoustic system was used in the vaulted area of the building to create individually designed lumier curved panels, which run across the length and breadth of the room. These acoustic panels are dry wall fixed to purpose-designed metal framing systems and naturally curve to a 5m radius when large panels are used.

StoSilent Top provides a seamless, smooth finish with an acoustic performance of 0.56 NRC – 0.60 αW (250–2000 Hz), were used on the timber and glass area which links the new wing to the existing herbarium.

To cut down reverberation from the hard materials such as fair-faced concrete, glass and tiled floors, StoSilent acoustic ceilings were also specified in many of the other rooms.

Lara Michael: "We chose StoSilent Panel and StoSilent Top because they ticked all of the boxes. In addition to their superior acoustic properties, they also offered the smooth aesthetic finish required. As the board is made from recycled glass granules it's also environmentally friendly."

"We were specific that Sto acoustic systems were used because they are high quality systems and we did not want to use metal ceilings for the acoustic areas. Sto helped us with choosing the product, showed us samples of the finishes, helped us with the specification, acoustic properties and cost advice. They attended meetings in our office and on site with the Sto-approved sub-contractor, Baker Stickland, who created the original metal work grid that allowed the boards to be curved and attached to the ceiling."

Completed in Summer 2009, this climate controlled archive and research space is the world's largest leading centre for study of plant variety. The added archive space will enable scientists to work more closely with Kew's definitive collection of plant specimens.