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Acoustics in Practice

A Local authority perspective

Paul Maccabee BSF & Academies Programme Director Melanie Jackson Sensory Support Service Alistair Burns Design Manager MCC

Melanie Jackson Sensory Support Service

The Manchester Context

Population: 439,025 White British 77% Other ethnic groups 23% Student population: 60,000 Unemployment: 5.1% (nat. av. 3.8%) Low birth weight: 8.2% (nat. av. 7.5%) Ranks 4th multiple deprivation index, with 9 areas in excess of 80% regarding child poverty measures A large, vibrant, metropolitan city, with a diverse ethnic population, a large student population and significant levels of mobility, unemployment and vulnerability.

Educational Profile
171 schools with 62,500 children 20% with SEN INA 1500 p.a. from Far and middle east, Africa,
Central and Eastern Europe

EAL 20,000; 80 languages LAC 1380: 55% SEN of which 27% have

500 children with hearing needs: ranging

from mild to profound losses, some with EAL and additional needs 41% mild, 33% moderate, 8% severe, 14% profound

Diverse population with a complex educational profile Environment old buildings: high ceilings and brick walls new buildings: large, open spaces SNR - Listening capabilities and limitations of children Technology INSET, support, advice, persuade

Creating a good learning environment

Classrooms are auditory verbal environments and 70% of the school day is spent listening. How well children hear a teacher affects how well they learn. Listening is a process: Detection, discrimination, recognition, identification, comprehension
Carol Flexer (2005-2008)

SFS -responses from schools: benefits for EAL, SEN, HI, curriculum access, calm classes, opportunities for communication.

Language development and curricular access

Removing barriers to listening and learning Creating access to a good quality signal Achieving potential for all pupils

Paul Maccabee MCC BSF & Academies Programme Director

Then.& Now
Then: BSF schools funding approvals dependant on contractual commitment to meet acoustic standards (PfS Oct 09) Now: Building Regs to be watered down as part of Government drive to scale back ridiculous bureacracy (TES Feb 11)

Challenges & Contradictions

BB93 compliance Air quality in the learning environment Head space in the learning environment Transformation & personalisation Temporary accomodation Dining room / social spaces (part E) Cost Building Regs - interpretations

Transformation & Personalisation

The critical relationship between pedagogy and the design / specification of buildings Theory and practice Clarity and consistency from concept through to operational use Good examples and bad ones

Lessons Learnt - Solutions

Generally positive feedback BB93 Alternative Standards Pilots Large Learning Areas Change management Leadership! Practical testing subjective judgement Flexibility of the structure to allow simple reconfiguration of learning space Limited use of flexible partitions Limited use of soundfield systems

Alistair Burns Design Manager MCC

Lesson delivery a variety of formats

Critical Design Factor - acoustics

Standard teaching rooms acoustic performance

BB93 compliance in a traditional classroom Area of acoustic treatment designed by an acoustician using computerised acoustic model to ensure speech intelligibility between Teacher speaking to student One student responding to teacher

Flexible Learning Zones acoustic performance many talking

Design Challenges 1
Fundamental space planning (loud & quiet activities) Open plan spaces where to put treatments Maintaining flexibility Adjacent noise breakthrough (external & internal) Integrating solution with services & structure Noise from plant Dealing with impact noise Robustness & aesthetics of any solution

Design Challenges 2
Connecting door & screen detail Flanking sound detailing (partitions & floors) Building Control sign off protocol Educating users

General teaching space acoustic principles

Exposed 200mm precast r. conc unit with 75mm screed

Use of light fittings to provide absorbers

Reflective deck at mid point assists carry

Acoustic panel at high level to achieve RT rating e.g. Gyproc Line 6 or Pregybel board

Reflective teachers wall

Absorptive student wall

Thick carpet for improved resistance to impact noise

Use of shelving or other equipment to diffuse sound at back and sides of room

General teaching space acoustic principles

Majority thermal mass exposed painted concrete soffit with textured finish to diffuse sound, some acoustic treatments may insulate against thermal mass aggravating overheating issues Majority hard surfaces on teachers wall with interactive white board, dry wipe and display boards Conflict between desire for natural lighting to deep plan floor plates & impact of glazing on room acoustics Exposed services offer potential for applied acoustic treatment for reduced reflection Acoustic treatment to be applied above 2100mm to avoid tampering by users Pin boards and display assume as reflective material Treatment on walls below 900mm is generally ineffective due to being partially obscured by FF&E

Design Challenge dealing with noise

Ceiling panels Folding screens


Furniture Tracked panels or curtains

Management modelling

Wall panels

Compliance with BB93 will only be possible in open plan areas under certain conditions that have been modelled and tested. Outside of these configurations results cannot be predicted.

Installation / construction challenges

Robustness of material - users Material not affected by humidity, temperature etc Sequencing - when to install Easily handled on site? Easily cut or drilled (surface patterning) Surface treatments - stop at 85% requirement and test!! Electronic reinforcement may rely on panels as transducers not helpful if you have no ceilings

Installation / construction challenges - sequencing

Furniture as acoustic screen and absorber

Acoustic panels do not have to be intrusive

Acoustic panels do not have to be intrusive

Acoustic panels can also be a feature if hung

Dont forget general circulation spaces

Problems with suspended ceiling systems in our experience:Tiles can be lifted & voids used to hide things Tiles can be easily damaged Tiles can be damaged through maintenance Our solution to use perforated board, however this required careful service coordination to fit the perforation pattern and numerous access hatches

External noise sources from traffic and adjacent properties can also be an issue (windows open in warm weather). We have used earth mounding and living screens woven into Willow wattles from renewable sources to deflect noise. These also provide excellent habitats for wildlife. Limitations performance determined by height and distance from building, generally only works for ground floor accommodation