December 2020

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 | 29 Walls & Ceilings have never been more relevant. Nedlaw Living Walls' biofilter technology has proved popular mostly with institutions thus far – schools, hospitals, govern- ment buildings, and so on – but Nedlaw sales and marketing manager Adam Holder is seeing a growing interest from retail, restaurants, and fitness centres. "There's more of an emphasis on clean air than ever before," says Holder. Today, the pressure is on to ensure workspaces and public places are safe, and air quality is a huge part of building up confidence. Biofiltration doesn't kill pathogens, but it's a start, and companies like Nedlaw are exploring ways to take their filters even further with the help of technology. Architects and designers want to get behind biophilic design, and property developers like how these sort of elements can push them into LEED territory. "You talk about sick building syndrome and poor performance and dreary offices and lousy circular ventilation, and people are really getting behind it," Holder says. For those companies that have invested in living walls, whether for esthetic reasons or well-being, the results are stunning. The York Region Administrative Centre in Ontario, for example, features an 85-foot wall of lush greenery. At eight-storeys tall, it's both a powerful biofilter and a tremendous piece of architecture. The right wall and ceiling materials don't just make your space look good: they can make it sound good, too. "Felt products are very popular right now," says Ed Makarchuk, principal of Sound Solutions. Specializing in acoustic solutions for both interior and exterior spaces, Makarchuk has provided countless homes and businesses with the products they need to keep spaces peaceful, quiet, and cozy – descriptors that are even more desirable in these chaotic times. Really, it's no wonder that soft felt panels are trending. What is particularly interesting is the creativity clients are showing right now with this useful material, notes Makarchuk: "We've seen some nice uses of this material to create new shapes out of the felt, such as floating box clouds, 3D pyr- amid panels, and custom baffles." He points to Akustus products as particularly popular for keeping unwanted noise out. With offerings like floating geometric shapes that hang from the ceiling, or ribbed wall panelling, all available in on-trend colours and bold, statement making hues, Akustus' design-friendly products make it possible to achieve an acoustically balanced space with style. It's exciting, ultimately, to have such a functional product available in so many artistic variations – a designer can craft an ideal sonic experience, while also adding an interesting visual layer in the process. CGC's modular ceiling solutions similarly embrace the union of design and performance. The company's Danoline Acoustical Perforated Gypsum panels, Heradesign Wood Wool panels, and Acoustic SF Acoustical panels are made from gypsum, wood wool, and wet-felt respectively; but as different as they are, each line of products serves a powerful function to regulate sound, while enhancing a space. Behind the face of the wall, big changes are lurking, says Andrew Cole, executive director of the Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association. "All current generations of foam will become obsolete," he says. What's replacing it, as determined by the Montreal Protocol, is HFO Agents: blowing agents that significantly drop the GWP index. "To put the significance into perspective, the previous generation had a level between 100 and 1,000. The new product will be a six." Cole notes that foam isn't just "a one-trick pony." Installed correctly, the material can provide structural support as well, building strength inside walls and making structures more earthquake resistant in the process. Even so, the product has had a hard time gaining traction against fibreglass and mineral wool – despite the fact spray foam insulation has been around for 50 years, it's still considered new and innovative. Cole's hoping these code changes will be a key driver in pushing builders and architects to adopt this environmentally friendly product. "We want to move to a more energy-efficient, low-carbon economy, and you're going to have a hard time getting there if you're not using spray foam," he says. At this point in time, the engineering and technical possibilities of wall and ceiling makers have turned seemingly simple surfaces into incredibly powerful tools for shaping our environments in more ways than one. Though the world may be unpredictable, we can at least count on the fact that we have these products to help us create beautiful spaces that are inspiring or soothing, cozy or breezy, flexible or firmly functional. A 10:08 AM Vipond.indd 1 17-01-20 4:03 PM

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