The Dine Hear Acoustic Designer for 2014 was announced today by global acoustic lining leader Knauf. Michael McPhillips from Magoffin and Deakin Architects took the award and the $5,000 cash prize in a competition that drew over 180 entries from architects and design students around Australia.
“Minimalism in restaurant design has been done to death and it’s unpleasant for diners,” said Knauf Marketing Manager Stephanie Olsen. “What was striking about all the entries was the way designers used acoustic materials almost as interior art – as well as to reduce noise but keep buzzy restaurant ambience.”
“Restaurateurs often claim noise equals ambience but the current minimalist restaurant fashion - open plan design with high ceilings and lots of hard reflective surfaces like polished concrete - is a noise nightmare for diners and a problem each of the designers attempted to solve,” said Olsen.
The Dine Hear competition, running for its second year, urges restaurateurs and venue owners to consider acoustics as part of the design process to create a better dining experience. Competition entrants were asked to visit their favourite restaurant and design an imaginary acoustic makeover.
As part of the competition, Knauf created Sound of Architecture, an interactive website that simulates the effect of acoustic materials on restaurant noise levels.
Demonstrating that noisy dining is also a regional issue, winner Michael McPhillips chose to makeover a popular restaurant with a single, high-ceilinged room that just “does not fare well acoustically when it is filled with clientele”.
A number of designers, including award-winning restaurant architect Sidney Koh, of Aqua Dining fame, used acoustic materials not only to improve the sound experience but also the visual experience.
Melbourne’s popular Chin Chin received an acoustic and visual makeover. Pocket Oat architect Ardhene Sembrano included larger-than-life letters spelling CHIN CHIN covered with Knauf Heradesign panel, suspended from the ceiling. Sembrano says that her entry is designed to improve “audibility and intelligibility whilst extending and strengthening the restaurant’s vibrant brand identity”.
Other much-loved restaurants chosen by designers include Melbourne’s one-hat restaurant Epocha; Sydney’s Hemmes’ owned El Loco and emerging favourite Moon Park; as well as Perth’s Little Creatures Great Brewery Hall.
Noisy restaurants are increasingly a turn-off for diners. 83% of respondents to a goodfood.com.au survey agreed that noisy restaurants detracted from their dining experience.
In a survey by Australian hearing care provider, HEARINGLife, only 10% of Australian restaurateurs had considered noise as a key issue when planning or modifying their restaurant. The finalists’ entries in the Dine Hear 2014 competition can be viewed on the Sound of Architecture website.