I can hardly imagine anyone who doesn’t understand what a soffit is – at least the most common applications: a soffit is the “box” that sits between the top one’s kitchen cabinets and the ceiling, or the one that closes the area below one’s roof eaves. A soffit is technically the underside of any construction element, such as the area under a flight of stairs.
However you define them, soffits can be used in many ways as critical and effective elements in nightclub and bar design.
How Are Soffits Constructed?
My counterparts in the residential design community typically design soffits with wood 2 x’s and drywall. Anyone (at least in the U.S.) who has tried their hand at kitchen remodeling is familiar with this method – a series of continuous 2 x 4 (or 2 x 2) wood plates, connected periodically by wood studs and covered with drywall. However, in commercial construction, we use metal studs in lieu of wood and the entire assembly is extremely light weight and much easier to install. Quite frankly, soffits constructed of metal studs are far superior to their wood counterparts, especially in terms of maintaining level, straight and square lines.
How Are Curved Soffits Designed and Built?
Often times, when designing a stage that is curved or elliptical in shape, I’ll employ a canopy (soffit) of the same shape. In this context, I can embellish the beauty of the stage by creating a mirror image of it and reflect it in the ceiling, as illustrated in the above photo. How is this accomplished? Enter “Flex-C Trac™” by Flex-Ability Concepts. Flex-C Trac is a light gauge steel framing product developed for metal stud construction, and used to build complex curved metal structures (the company also offers a similar wood product). With their 2 ½” (64mm) track, one can achieve a bending radius as small as 7” (178mm)! You can download the cut sheet below. Setting-up and installing a curved wall is simple using Flex-C Trac, as shown in the above video. Here's the basics of building a curved soffit:
- Establish the curved path. A skilled carpenter has the knowledge of properly laying-out a curved path, but this can be time-consuming and not a productive use of time. A much more effective method is to email your CAD file to any machine shop that has a CNC router; there they can create a template out of lightweight material, such as ¼” (6mm) plywood. Your contractor will love you for this, and to be honest, it’s the only sure-fire, accurate method.
- Using the above template, the Flex-C Trac is then hand-formed to match the shape. All soffits require a top plate and bottom plate.
- The studs (metal or wood) are then cut to length and fastened to the top and bottom plates. Metal studs enable the contractor to assembly the entire canopy on the ground, whereas the same canopy constructed with wood studs will generally be built in-place, which is very time-consuming and less accurate.
- After the soffit has been framed and hung, it is then finished with drywall or high-pressure laminate, another favorite finish of mine.
In my opinion, Flex-C Trac™ and light gauge metal studs is the only way to build any curved soffit.
Flex-C Trac Cut Sheet
What is the Main Benefit of Soffits in Nightclubs and Bars?
If you want your patrons to spend more money in your club, the soffit will be one of your most cost-effective solutions. After all, you invest a great deal of money in marketing to get people into your nightclub or bar. Your next job is to keep them there as long as you can, and this begins by making them feel cozy. Soffits will provide that cozy, intimate feeling and the first area I always evaluate is the bar. Placing a soffit above your patrons heads will impart a greater sense of intimacy, and the more intimacy you can impart into the customer experience will help ensure that they stay in your club longer. I’m not saying you can ignore your other furnishings, because that would be foolish. Believe me, people enjoy being pampered, and thoughtful soffit design in your nightclub or bar is a solid investment toward achieving that goal.
Other Design Benefits of Soffits in Nightclubs and Bars
One of the most common questions of clients with large clubs is how to give their clubs a more imaginative appearance. To me, there isn’t anything desirable about a large, open space – they just lack character. Nightclub and bar owners who are searching for a solution to make their clubs more appealing should consider including soffits in their design. Soffits will provide a visual break for large areas. Remember, it isn’t how to make your space appear large, it’s about making it appear more interesting and intimate, as you can see in the above photo, where we used a soffit to define a curtain wall of architectural glass.
Why Soffits are So Imporant to Design: They Define Areas
A side benefit of soffit implementation is its ability to define an area. This is true especially in open areas, such as the canopy I described above. When you have a free-standing soffit, this is the opportunity to add other creative architectural elements, such as a curved crown molding and LED lighting.
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If your bar or nightclub application is outside the U.S., we'd be delighted to work with you! We're familiar with the metric system and can furnish you with the appropriate plans and specifications for construction. With our web-conferencing and Basecamp 24 x 7 project management system, we're fully capable of servicing your needs. Please click here to learn more about our methods.
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Our standard bar design service includes all construction plans and equipment layouts. We would be happy to assist any gentlemen’s club, night club, or bar owner who would like to incorporate time-proven design ideas into your venue. Please feel free to contact us.