IN: Inspiration

Concrete & Bubble-Wrap Soundproofing

Sweden’s latest research facility has an intimate, noise-free lecture theatre thanks to a combination of concrete and bubble wrap.


Sweden’s latest research facility, Karolinska Institutet – NEO, showcases the versatility of concrete’s functionality with its new lecture theatre. The venue was specifically designed to optimise sound distribution and sound quality by means of structure and technology. Its walls are large and bubble-shaped, made using concrete and bubble wrap. This surface is simultaneously a work of art and a showcase of concrete’s functional benefits.

The walls of the lecture theatre were made by combining panels of perforated concrete. This porous surface, which curves outwards from the inner chamber, contrasts with the otherwise sleek, sterile lab environment.

PPC Imaginarium

To create the panels, high-performance concrete was compressed between two layers of bubble-wrap, giving them their unique shape. The new facility, designed by Swedish firm Tengbom Architects and Butong , includes 250 concrete panels that contain 262 500 cavities and 1 000 000 membrane perforations.

Tengbom Architects is a firm based in Stockholm, that’s been ranked as one of the world’s most innovative architectural firms. In 2015 Tengbom made headlines for a “Living Lab” they created for corporate housing association HSB: a live-in modular research arena for architects and researchers working on housing solutions for the future.

PPC Imaginarium

The combination of cavities and perforations allow for a unique, noise-free space, able to facilitate intimate discourse. The perforations absorb noise while the cavities diffuse high-pitch sounds. The unique design of the structure is also able to diffuse sounds to a lower register. Inside the lecture theatre, sound is distributed through an impressive collection of 68 microphones and 234 loudspeakers.

Thanks to a dynamic light design, guests may also enjoy a unique visual experience. Light artists Svante Petterson and Daniel Ljung have installed LED lights behind and in front of the concrete panels that display a moving cloud image. The display can also be altered using a smartphone, meaning visitors can change the displayed image or deactivate the feature altogether.

PPC Imaginarium

Read more about Karolinska Institutet – NEO:

Photography by: Per Lundström

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