Acoustic

Case Studies

Scottish Opera Rehearsal Space

Scottish Opera’s new Silver Cloud Studio is a 5,000 square foot orchestral rehearsal space at Hillingdon Park near Glasgow.

An existing industrial unit has been converted to create the studio, creating significant technical challenges in terms of achieving high-end acoustics and good environmental conditions for performers.

On first appearances, an unprepossessing industrial unit didn’t seem a likely candidate for orchestral rehearsal space.  It was a cold, reverberant shed that suffered from rain noise on its metal roof and noise break-in from adjacent units and traffic. However, it did have two valuable assets – its large volume and the availability of daylight from a big roof-light.

The first step for the acoustic design was to create a quiet space. The entrance from the car-park has been lobbied to control traffic noise. One wall has an independent lining to control noise from the adjacent unit and a suspended ceiling has been added to control rain noise.

The design of the suspended ceiling was crucial as it performed a number of discrete functions. We used a readily available and inexpensive grid system, but devised a layout that interspersed three types of tile. This allowed the ceiling to admit daylight to the space, to control the level of acoustic reverberation, and to provide the diffuse overhead reflections that are essential for ensemble playing.

The acoustics are excellent and allow all the different sections of the orchestra to hear each other with great clarity and yet still retain a positive bloom to the sound. Already I am seeing better results from the orchestra which can be directly attributed to the new space” – Stuart Stratford, Music Director.

Image Tom Finnie Info
The new suspended ceiling uses a specific tile layout to optimise acoustics and daylight.
Image Tom Finnie Info
Angled wall panels provide diffusion and drapes provide acoustics variability.

Oriam Sports Performance Centre

Oriam Sports Performance Centre is the new national home for football and other professional and amateur sporting bodies in Scotland.

The vision for Oriam was to create an inspirational national facility for athletes, coaches and support staff. Our work included M&E and Acoustic design. The internal environments have been carefully designed and tested to ensure acoustic comfort and speech intelligibility throughout the building.

Using 3D computer simulations, we investigated late echoes which can hamper speech intelligibility in large volume spaces. We resolved these issues by sloping the long wall of the sports hall, to redirect echoes up and away from occupants.

We also presented auralisations (sound simulations) of reverberation in the main hall and rain noise from the tensile fabric roof to allow the client to review design options in relation to their requirements.

Oriam won the award for Project of the Year (Leisure) at 2018 CIBSE Building Performance Awards.

Image Ioana Marinescu Info
A combination of acoustically absorptive surfaces and the angled walls reduce the reverberation and improve acoustic comfort for the occupants.
Image Ioana Marinescu Info
The internal environments have been designed and tested to ensure acoustic comfort and speech intelligibility throughout the building.

Musée d’Art de Nantes

Nantes, the sixth largest city in France, is home to the refurbished and extended Musée d’Art, by Stanton Williams Architects.

The major renovation and extension of the 19th century Palais des Beaux-Arts has created more than 17,000m2 of floor space - including a new building dedicated to contemporary art - to display the Museum's impressive collection and host prestigious exhibitions. Max Fordham provided M&E engineering consultancy, exhibition and architectural lighting, and acoustic design.

Our acoustic design included the galleries, offices, public spaces basement lecture theatre, and other ancillary spaces.

As part of our work, we developed a bespoke light fitting for the galleries that includes a micro-perforated acoustic material between the diffuser and the lamps to absorb sound and control reverberation.

Our acousticians also presented a series of computer simulated auralisations of the refurbished entrance hall to the design team. This allowed the team to gauge the impact of various design decisions on the acoustic performance of the hall, and to set an appropriate room acoustic for the space.

Simulations were also made for the multi-purpose auditorium, where the timber finishes have been selected for their acoustic function.

Image Hufton + Crow Info
A translucent micro-perforated fabric has been integrated within the roof-lights to control reverberation in the galleries.
Image Hufton + Crow Info
We performed a number of acoustic surveys at the site and developed appropriate noise control measures for rooftop plant equipment.

Oldham Coliseum Theatre

A new-build 500-seat theatre is being constructed adjacent to the existing Gallery Oldham and linked to the historic Library building, which will be refurbished to provide exhibition galleries, lecture hall, foyer and dining spaces. A new 150-seat studio space is also being provided as part of the development.

We are working in close collaboration with the theatre consultant to determine the layout of the auditorium seating and coordinate our proposed acoustic reflectors with the requirements for technical lighting.

The site is located next to a tram track and we have undertaken detailed vibration measurements to inform the design of the theatre structure. By defining appropriate breaks in the structure and setting the theatre auditorium back from the track, we have limited the extent of the box-in-box structure, reducing costs significantly.

Image Mecanoo architecten Info
The site is located next to tram tracks, so we have undertaken detailed vibration measurements to inform the design of the theatre structure.

This is a Voice

Max Fordham provided the acoustic design input for the ‘This is a Voice’ exhibition at the Wellcome Collection held in London between April and July 2016. 

The exhibition, bringing together a wide range of works by contemporary artists and vocalists including Matthew Herbert, Imogen Stidworthy and Joan La Barbara,  was conceived as an acoustic journey tracing the material quality of the voice, and included a number of audio exhibitions within the same gallery.  The exhibition space also needed to be physically expansive to allow visitors to move freely through the displays.

This presented a significant acoustic challenge in combining the contrasting acoustic aspirations of generating a coherent exhibition soundscape in an open space while incorporating measures to control excess sound-spill between the different exhibits.

We advised on the arrangement, surface finishes and constructions within the exhibition space.  We also provided strategic input to the audio-visual design using highly-directional or localised audio systems where possible.

Image Max Fordham LLP Info
Our acoustic input focused on the use of materials, screening and sound isolating tunnels to reduce unintended noise leakage between the different exhibits
Image Max Fordham LLP Info
We advised on layouts, finishes and constructions which would create the appropriate acoustic environment for each artist’s work while maintaining the overarching visual and sonic concept
Image Max Fordham LLP Info
We also contributed to the audio-visual design by using directional or localised audio systems where appropriate

Mint Street

This social housing scheme for Peabody provides 67 mix tenure new homes over seven storeys.   As well as M&E and Sustainability, Max Fordham were appointed to develop the acoustic strategy for the site.

To control noise break-in, the flats used winter-gardens on the noisy railway facade to act as an acoustic buffer.  Ventilation was provided by quiet-running fans, ducted to the shielded facade, with the facility to boost ventilation rates to deal with summertime overheating conditions.

Image Nick Kane Info
High-quality, secondary glazed windows were used to attenuate train noise and achieve low ambient noise levels within bedrooms and living spaces
Image Nedko Dimitrov Info
Winter gardens have been incorporated into flats on the noisiest façade, facing the railway line to control noise break-in

Keynsham Civic Centre

The headquarters for Bath and Northeast Somerset Council serves as an exemplar for sustainability in public buildings in the UK. It is the first building to employ the full 'Soft Landings' methodology, where the energy performance aims were not just forecast in the design but written into the contract.

Our acoustic design included extensive computer noise-mapping to establish the exposure of the building facades to traffic noise. The open-plan offices are naturally ventilated using acoustically attenuated louvres where necessary to mitigate noise break-in. 

Image Julian Anderson Info
Architectural acoustic design software was used to optimise the location of acoustic absorption in the open plan spaces in order to minimise disturbance and provide privacy
Image Julian Anderson Info
Acoustically attenuating louvres mitigate noise break-in from traffic whilst allowing office spaces to be naturally ventilated

Investcorp Building

The Investcorp Building expands the Middle East Centre at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford - one of the graduate colleges that comprise the UK’s oldest university. Designed with Zaha Hadid Architects, the building incorporates essential new facilities that meet the increasing demand for research and academic activities from the Centre.

Our acoustic design included noise-mapping, internal partition details, room acoustic modelling, acoustic materials advice and the design of the 200-seat lecture theatre.

Skylights provide natural daylight to the library. The façade of the archive reading room has fritted glass, a finely porous glass that air can pass through, thereby controlling solar gain.

Image Quintin Lake Info
Natural ventilation is employed wherever possible, including the smaller rooms and café. Air is drawn from the quiet side of the building away from the adjacent road, making the space a more comfortable working environment.
Image Quintin Lake Info
Acoustic design included room acoustic modelling and acoustic materials advice for the 200-seat lecture theatre

Alexandra Palace

The refurbishment at the Grade II listed Alexandra Palace in north London encompasses the Theatre, BBC Studios and the East Court. The historic 1875 theatre will be brought back to life as a multi-purpose performance venue, retaining its character as a ‘found space’.

Sound absorbing motorised blinds are being installed, making it possible to cut out the long reverberation of the existing space at the touch of a button.

We are working closely with the theatre consultant and structural engineer to limit the load on the existing roof structure that results from the acoustic enhancements and additional technical equipment.

The East Court is being refurbished to act as both a grand entrance foyer and a flexible space for a variety of uses. Tailored acoustic banners with integrated, feature lighting are to be hung from the glazed roof of this huge space, creating a more comfortable acoustic environment.

Image Andy Hutton Info
We are working closely with the theatre consultant and structural engineer to limit the total loadings on the existing roof structure that result from the acoustic enhancements and additional technical equipment.

City of London Freemen's School

Phase one of the master-plan for the City of London Freemen’s School campus includes a 60-bed boarding house, a music school with 250-seat recital hall, practice rooms and a recording studio.

A bespoke perforation pattern for the timber panels in the performance space gives a balanced acoustic response across the musical frequency range.

Winner of the 2014 Civic Trust Award, AJ Retrofit Award and 2013 RIBA National Award.

Image Tim Crocker Info
A bespoke perforation pattern for the timber panels in the performance space gives a balanced acoustic response across the musical frequency range
Image Tim Croker Info
Geometric acoustic modelling was used to inform the orientation and acoustic properties of surfaces within the 250-seat recital hall

Corn Exchange, Kings Lynn

The Victorian Corn Exchange was redesigned to provide a multi-purpose venue for concerts, plays and community events, including a new 740-seat auditorium. 

As part of the work, the volume of the auditorium was increased by replacing the old glass roof with a new structure at a greater height. As well as improving the sound isolation through the roof, this provided increased reverberation which is very beneficial for orchestral music. 

Some performances however, such as theatre productions, require more controlled reverberation. To cater for them we designed a system of motor-controlled sliding acoustic panels that can be deployed to adjust the acoustic characteristics of the hall at the touch of a button.

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From piano concertos, full orchestras or stage productions, the acoustic qualities of the volume can be varied to cater for all.
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The height of the auditorium roof was raised to add volume and reverberation.

The Hub, Coventry

The redevelopment of this central Coventry site provides the University with a variety of student facilities including several large open-plan informal learning areas.

The building also includes a multi-purpose venue with the capacity for 1,000 people. The acoustic design of this space needed to be flexible enough to accommodate music performances, stand-up comedy, theatre and night-club use.

Our design made use highly absorbent acoustic finishes and a zig-zagwall profile to break-up low frequency room-modes.  The proximity of the venue to the study areas raised particular noise-control challenges and lead to the use of a ‘box-in-box’ acoustic isolation strategy. 

Image Julian Anderson Info
The multi-purpose venue has highly absorbent acoustic finishes and a zig-zag wall profile to break-up low frequency room-modes

Theatre Royal Newcastle

Celebrating its 175th anniversary in 2012, Newcastle’s Grade I listed Theatre Royal has been refurbished to restore many of Frank Matcham’s original features.

Our Acoustics Team undertook a detailed analysis of the impact of the proposed restoration on the acoustic character of the space.

 The results of computer modelling and simulations were compared to acoustic measurements made prior to the refurbishment, allowing us to advise on the suitability of the proposed materials and finishes.

Image Sally Ann Norman Info
Max Fordham measured the impact of the proposed refurbishment on acoustic performance of the Grade II listed auditorium.
Image Sally Ann Lawson Info
The Theatre Royal was restored to its former glory but with 21st Century acoustics performance.

Wessex Auditorium, Brentwood School

The new-build extension to Brentwood School in Essex includes a 400-seat auditorium, foyer and classroom block.

The auditorium has been designed to provide a variable acoustic suitable for both spoken word (conferences and assemblies), drama and music performance of all kinds.  Specially-designed, hinged acoustic wall panels can be opened up to provide additional absorption, allowing the acoustic response of the space to be adjusted.

Classrooms are naturally ventilated despite overlooking a nearby busy road.  Air enters the space through bespoke attenuated ventilators, designed by Max Fordham and integrated with the window reveal. The air is then drawn out though high level ventilation stacks.

Image Julian Anderson Info
Specially designed hinged acoustic wall panels, visible here on the left, can be opened up to provide additional absorption.
Image Julian Anderson Info
The acoustics of the 400-seat auditorium can be varied so it can be used for drama and conferences as well as music.

Napoli Afragola High Speed Train Station

Napoli Afragola is one of 13 new stations for Italy’s high-speed rail system.

It has a mixed-mode ventilation system meaning that the main concourse is open to the platforms during the mid-season. To prevent problems with excessive break-in of train noise, we modelled the noise coming through these openings and proposed surface treatments to attenuate the sound path. The central concourse uses acoustic absorption integrated with the solar shading strategy at high level.

Extensive modelling of public address coverage in the various concourse and platform areas was also undertaken.

A computer-generated video of the project's design (created by Zaha Hadid Architects) is available to watch here.

Image Zaha Hadid architects Info
This image shows the main arrival and departure concourse, which is open to the platforms mid-season. The surface treatments to the platform openings have been selected to control break-in of noise from the high-speed trains.
Image Zaha Hadid Architects Info
Acoustic absorption is needed in the main concourse to reduce reverberation and improve the intelligibility of PA announcements. The absorption is provided as a band around the walls and is also integrated with the solar shading at high level.

London 2012 Water Polo Arena

The atmosphere during the London 2012 water polo competition was invigorated by Max Fordham’s acoustic design for the 5000-seat temporary arena. 

 

A critical aspect of our design was providing sufficient reverberation control to ensure the PA system was clearly intelligible, without dampening the atmosphere and intensity from the crowd.

 

The building’s ‘skin’ was made from recycled phthalate-free PVC. We investigated the acoustic properties of this material and made assessments of crowd noise in similar venues.  Reverberation control was provided by micro-perforated fabric liners on the side walls. Ray-tracing computer software was used to assess coverage and intelligibility from the proposed speaker arrays. The result was outstanding acoustic quality in the first purpose-built Olympic Water Polo venue.

 

 

Image David Morley Architects Info
Micro-perforated fabric liners on the side walls were installed to control reverberation.
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The acoustic design considered noise from both mechanical plant and crowd noise breakout.

Acoustic