Exterior of DFDS headquarters office building

Sustainable acoustics at award-winning DFDS Headquarters office building

Danish architecture firm PLH Arkitekter A/S have focused all their efforts on creating an office building in Copenhagen which is both environmentally as well as socially sustainable, compromising nothing in terms of acoustics or aesthetics. This building took Nohcron’s “Office building of the year” prize for 2023, and it’s easy to see why.

With a spectacular view over the Öresund sound, the shipping company DFDS’s waterfront offices – which have been under construction since November 2019 – embody the company’s commitment to a sustainable future by utilising the minimum amount of environmentally costly building materials.

The building acoustics also represents an investment in their workers’ health and wellbeing, as many workers cite noise as a primary blockage to their productivity and collaboration (read more about the effects of office noise on workers).

Suspended acoustic ceiling in open-plan office
Suspended acoustic ceiling in open-plan office

The building is additionally accredited according to the German green building certification DGNB (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen) up to Gold standard. This certification is used internationally to validate the sustainability performance of buildings. In order to receive the certification and the performance it ensures, the architects prioritised energy efficiency, resource conservation, ecological impact, and social responsibility.

Creating the best acoustics for the building inhabitants helped to fulfil the social criteria of the certification. By providing healthy sound environments that are free from harmful chemicals and meet the requirements for acoustic comfort (i.e. low reverberation times), Ecophon acoustic products promote productivity and wellbeing and therefore contribute to points on the DGNB certification (read more about in our DNGB scorecard).

Suspended acoustic ceiling in office entrance area
Suspended acoustic ceiling in office staircase atrium and lobby
Suspended acoustic ceiling in office entrance area

Since a key aim was to avoid environmentally costly building materials, 9000m2 of Ecophon Focus™ Dg and 1000 m2 of Ecophon Focus™ Fixiform Ds and Ecophon Focus™ Fixiform E were chosen for their sustainability as well as acoustic performance. From an acoustic standpoint this solution was ideal for dealing with acoustic challenges associated with level jumps because of their ability to bend around corners. Because the spaces these products will be mounted are densely populated with workers and customers, absorbing sounds in the speech range was of maximal importance, and Class A sound absorbers were chosen to achieve this.

Circularity is also an important consideration for DGNB certification. Focus Dg, Focus Fixiform Ds and E have high percentages of recycled materials (59 and 57%, respectively) because of responsible sourcing of raw materials from recycled glass. Additionally, the ceilings are also eligible for Ecophon’s prize-winning take-back scheme SoundCircularity, which is currently active in Denmark (also in Sweden, Finland, Germany and France).

See in the images above how social and environmental sustainability work synergistically towards an office environment where noise levels are kept to a minimum, speech privacy is enhanced and the productivity, health and wellbeing of DFDS workers are kept in balance.


Text: Douglas MacCutcheon, PhD. Global Concept Developer for Sustainable Acoustic Environments