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Quiet Space - Ensuring Acoustic Comfort in Buildings

Posted on December 12, 2013

The new Performing Arts Centre for the University of Plymouth is now well under way with construction progressing at a pace. Grainge Architects are working with Midas Construction and acoustic consultants 'Redtwin' on this £4 million project located in a prime location adjacent to the University of Plymouth's Roland Lewinsky Building & Drakes Circus.

The Performing Arts Centre consists of a new 220 seater auditorium complete with moveable bleacher seating. With spectator seating fully retracted, the auditorium can hold an audience of 400 people. In addition to this principal space, there are various ancillary performance spaces, staff offices & teaching areas all adjoining a central double height foyer which also doubles as a breakout performance space. Large expanses of glazing allow natural daylight into the foyer's deep plan.

The building's location adjacent to Drakes Circus has provided acute challenges in terms of meeting the stringent acoustic requirements for theatre and performance spaces. To meet a BREEAM Excellent rating, the building is naturally ventilated and this requirement in itself is one of the greatest challenges in maintaining control of the internal acoustic environment. To reduce noise intake, bespoke attenuators set within ventilation plenums, have been strategically arranged around the building. Multi-layered wall systems provide the required noise reduction through external walls. The pre-cast concrete floor and roof supported on the steel frame, assist in providing the acoustic resilience within the building and between adjacent spaces whilst at the same time insulating the internal uses from external traffic noise.

Another critical area of sound control is isolation of noise generating plant equipment, with pipe and ductwork routes and design all coordinated to ensure minimum impact on the internal rooms. The early design concept in particular revolved around separation of acoustically sensitive rooms from noise generating spaces and activities.

So whilst the copper & limestone clad facade projects an exciting and elegant public face to the city, the truly interesting things are what is going on behind the facade to ensure the building users enjoy the internal spaces without realising the lengths that have been gone to to achieve this oasis of peace within the heart of the city.

Building completion is due May 2014.

Grainge Architects Performing Arts Plymouth  

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