Acoustics

Team

We are acousticians with a deep understanding of the engineering of the whole building. This gives us a practical and a theoretical appreciation of the work of our colleagues in the design team. With this perspective, our Acoustics Team can apply their engineering specialism to the best effect and in the most efficient way.

We have the experience and knowledge to design and deliver quality acoustic environments in everything from large-scale performance venues to residential bedrooms.

Josh Rodell

BEng AMIOA

Acoustic Engineer

A thousand tiny elements are responsible for the sound of a space. I help design teams understand how the choices they make can change the acoustics of a space, and how those changes will affect the people who use it.

I like to work on projects throughout their life so that I’m able to include acoustic considerations from the start, as well as build a strong relationship with the design team. Each member of the team has their own expectations and requirements for the spaces we’re designing. Without clear and creative communication, the requirements needed to give a space good acoustics can seem arbitrary, and the processes behind them mysterious.

As part of my degree, I investigated the theoretical side of acoustics. Following my studies and while at Max Fordham, I have brought much of this theory into practice on a range of different projects, across a many different sectors and scales.

Recently, I modelled the effect of acoustic baffles in the open-plan offices at the new University of Cambridge Civil Engineering Building. I then developed a design based on minimising the distraction to users, rather than the traditional approach, which is just based on noise levels.

I have also been very involved in the design of our SoundSpace, a full 3D acoustics studio at our London office. I worked with the contractors to coordinate the layout, and designed and built speaker stands to fit our specific requirements. Once the space was complete, I developed a calibration routine, and have presented demonstrations to various clients and design teams.

One such demonstration was for a client on a large new-build religious building. I produced moving auralisations in different parts of the building, and through this the client was able to experience walking through their building decades before it is due to be complete. I also provided the client with binaural mixes of these auralisations so that they could be shown to the project funders.

Pedro Novo

BSc PhD MIOA

Acoustic Engineer

Good acoustics contributes to people’s enjoyment of a space; it has the power to affect how a place feels.

Each project is unique and I prioritise discussing the brief with the client and end users so that there is the best possible understanding of their aspirations.

I want everyone on the project team to appreciate the options, and for the client to be in a position to make informed decisions.  To get everyone on board, I use Auralization (the audio equivalent of visualization), to help illustrate the acoustic impact of possible design alternatives.  

Acoustics is just one aspect of a person's experience of a space. The visual impression is, in most cases, as important. Trying to find acoustic solutions that work in sympathy with the architect’s intended design, that are affordable, is a central part of my work.

Lewis Crabtree

BSc MIOA MInstP

Acoustic Engineer

'Acoustics is sometimes not considered to the same extent as other elements in the design of a building. I think this is a mistake.

Noise is central to our health and well-being. Get it wrong in building design and you face the prospect of homes that are unhealthy to live in, offices that are under-productive, schools that inhibit learning and performance venues that hinder the performance. The disparity between the perception of the importance of acoustic design and its actual impact is a gap we can bridge.

As an acoustician, I really enjoy the collaborative process that results in something being built. I come from a background in finance and IT consultancy and that means I bring a very structured approach to my work. It’s important to plan work according to the required deliverables, and to map out the steps to achieve them, right from the beginning.

At all stages through the design and construction process, I work with the end user in mind. There are many competing considerations that have to be balanced, but I believe that by designing for the people that will actually use the building, we develop a better product.'

Pete Leonard

BSc MIOA

Acoustic Engineer

Rather than imposing restrictions on the architectural design, I enjoy collaborating with the architect in order to find the acoustic solution that works in harmony with the building’s aesthetic.

We help design many aspects of the building from wall and floor constructions, to ventilation design, to the size and shape of the building.  The impact of this work is that sounds stay where they are wanted, at the right level and quality - so students can hear their teacher and audiences can enjoy the performance.

It is important to establish, at an early stage, the aspirations and expectations of the client and end-users. This enables us to develop our design goals.  I work towards providing a good acoustic environment for the client whilst reducing the impact on the project.

I see acoustic engineering as the process of finding, by collaboration, solutions to a multitude of intertwined considerations. A complex search for maximum benefit and minimum cost.

Innes Johnston

BA MEng CEng MCIBSE MIOA

Senior Partner

It's important to nurture the client's aspirations and design team relationships beyond project completion. In this way buildings can work truly sustainably.

My feeling is that a building can only be sustainable if it is comfortable, usable, and maintainable. This places particular emphasis on the design of user controls, simplicity and a real engagement in the process of hand over: I’m a keen advocate of Soft Landings.

As a chartered building services and acoustic engineering team leader I have run projects at all stages from concept briefing throughout the construction process to post-handover. Many have been high profile public cultural and arts buildings with historic building fabric.

Right from the start, I enjoy making sense of complex briefs, and reconciling the physics on paper with the human reality of a building in operation. I take pride in bringing to life the architect's vision while maintaining a consistent ‘big-picture’ view of the environmental strategy.

I'm the Senior Partner responsible for leading the Bristol office of the Practice, having established it myself in 2013.

Dr Neil McBride

BSc PhD CPhys MInstP MIOA

Acoustic Engineer

Room acoustics can affect the feel of the internal environment almost as much as the architecture, design and decoration.  Done well, the acoustic treatment will complement the architectural design without detracting from the aesthetics of a space.

Acoustics isn’t just about ensuring noise levels meet mandatory targets. It’s about providing design advice to ensure a building has a comfortable acoustic character.

My approach is to make a usable and comfortable space, whatever the inherent constraints. This means understanding the client’s and architect’s aspirations, considering potential issues, and even using auralisation technology to let people hear what the space will actually sound like.

In projects, there's often a choice to be made about when to start discussions on acoustics. I believe that thinking about this at an early stage of the design process means we can beautifully integrate our solution with the architecture.

Dr Anthony Chilton

MA DPhil CEng MIOA

Senior Partner

My goal is to find the acoustic solution that helps make buildings more comfortable.

Success is a building that sounds and feels just right.  In some cases, this means occupants should not be conciously aware of the acoustics.  In others, sound should be an active part of the character and function of the space.

Ideally, the acoustics are considered at an early stage of the design process. This makes it possible to achieve real benefits using the building and site layout thereby minimising the need for dedicated acoustic treatments.

Delivering good acoustics in a finished building is about attention to detail and monitoring the implementation of our designs through the construction process.  This is equally important for a naturally-ventilated school, open-plan office, world-class performance space or broadcast-quality sports venue. 

In my experience, creative thinking, good communication and collaboration across the design team are critical for a successful project, because the acoustic performance is influenced by all aspects of the building’s design.

Acoustics