Education

The design and specification of education buildings is hugely important. The sector has various demands that ensure that the learning environment is right for children and students to be educated.

Acoustic comfort is arguably the most important requirement of an educational facility. Different areas of educational buildings will invariably have different acoustic demands: classrooms, music rooms, corridors and libraries.

It has long been recognised that the learning environment discriminates against individuals with hearing impairment and classroom design is a contributing factor. A poor acoustical environment can be as much of an architectural barrier as a set of steps are to a wheelchair user.

Durability of metal acoustic products reduces maintenance costs by being resilient to accidental and malicious damage. Cleaning is integral to the use of an educational building. Products specified should be non-staining, easy to clean, dust free and designed for robust infrequent accessibility

These elements provide a consistent safe environment for the life of the building. Quality specified products can perform to the highest standard for years, without reverting to external trades to maintain their performance.

The acoustic design of schools is covered by Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) published in 2014 by the DfES. Its requirements are mandatory, being referenced under regulation E4 of the Building Regulations 2000. Compliance with this regulation must be proved to the Building Control Officer by issue of a comprehensive design report.

Control of reverberation in classrooms, corridors and stairwells as stated by BB93 has focused the need on good acoustic design, which need not stifle design flair. In a functional classroom (depending on the selection of acoustical material) often only 50% of the plan area needs to be considered for acoustic treatment to meet design criteria.

Acoustic demands can be met by the use of acoustic lighting rafts. Used in accordance with an open soffit, rafts enable thermal mass cooling, naturally contributing to energy efficient building cooling. A combination of perforated and non-perforated metal suspended ceiling systems and wall panels can be designed in a variety of ways to produce optimal acoustic performance.