We provide design advice on a wide range of public and educational buildings to ensure that the internal acoustic conditions deliver an appropriate environment, and control break-out and building services noise in the surrounding community. The extent of the work that we do aims to assist speech intelligibility where it is needed, control noise build-up and break-in form the outside environment, provide privacy where needed, make sure plant noise doesn't dominate our environments and, where possible strengthen our connection with the natural world.
Schools: If children can’t hear they can’t learn. That is perhaps obvious. However, if they can’t hear well they also struggle to retain the information. Therefore, good acoustics in schools is essential. Our aim is to create schools which benefit both pupils and teachers, supporting the creation of high quality learning environments.
New schools are covered by the Building Regulations (Section E4 of Approved Document Part E); and refurbished schools by the School Premises Regulations (2012), which places an “in-use” requirement on the operator to make sure the acoustics are “suitable” for the intended use (under Regulation 7). The minimum standards are set out in BB93, which is about to be updated.
Getting the acoustics right is also critical to preserve teachers' voices and their health as well as making sure pupils can hear to learn and crucially retain that information. Services include acoustic design to meet BB93, due diligence checks against the in-use requirements, and acoustic testing at commissioning stage or as a benchmark.
Where inclusive educational environments are required we can advise on meeting the needs of those with special hearing needs. We have particular expertise in this area as Peter Rogers led the Institute of Acoustics first campaign to keep new regulations within the law, and is involved in the rewrite of BB93. He also is assisting the National Deaf Children’s Society with a voluntary Quality Sound Mark scheme, which can be used to signpost suitable classrooms.
Homes: Our homes are where we rest, recharge and spend time with our families. They are often a small oasis in our noisy world, and as such are important to our well-being. In our homes we need privacy and sound insulation provides this for new houses and refurbishments, and minimum standards apply.
We provide design advice to meet the requirements of Building Regulations. We work with architects to optimise designs and can assist by suggesting suitable constructions, and for those interested, what alternatives to traditional materials can be used and that have good eco-credentials. We particularly specialise in floor refurbishments and work on heritage buildings, which are often sensitive to requirements.
Offices: Our work environments are critical to get right in order to maximise human efficiency and comfort, minimise stress and sickness. We bring a fresh approach to creating pleasant, healthy and vibrant work environments, which are tailored to the needs of the organisation.
We work with a palate of services which include: privacy, appropriate speech intelligibility design, optimising suitable reverberation control treatment, maintaining flexibility and variety of working areas to make sure that there is a suitable place for each type of person. Particular care in open plan areas, and meeting rooms is required if video and teleconference facilities are planned.
Our recent involvement with the Stockholm Stress Institute enables us to base our advice on current evidence and thinking. We can also assist with the use of soundscapes to improve masking levels and therefore privacy, and improve people’s connection with positive sound in the environment. Our work on the WWF HQ, Woking and MARS UK HQ offices place us well to lead in this area.
Public Buildings: The acoustic design of public buildings, such as libraries, courts, churches, theatres, leisure centres and cinemas is also fundamental to their use - in some cases, ensuring clarity and intelligibility of speech and control of interference from external noise and in others, creating the right environment for music and dramatic effect.
We work to match the buildings connection with people so that it can succeed in its use. When buildings are designed to be green and work for those using them for their full lifecycles, they will then satisfy our goal of being truly sustainable. Getting the acoustics design right is a critical part of that solution.