The following is a guide towards achieving the most appropriate acoustics in an educational project.
The need for a new building may be identified some years before construction begins, and a detailed planning phase typically defines the desired number and type of learning and meeting spaces to be included.
Detailed acoustic input is unlikely at this stage, but members should work with their Facilities Management team to ensure general design standards always reflect the requirements of contemporary learning and meeting spaces.
Design and Construction
Once the project commences, the space planning will recommence and decisions affecting spaces will be made. This includes their location within the building and adjacency to plant, the façade, and other sensitive spaces.
Space planning is an iterative process, and the number and type of learning and meeting spaces will likely change several times before construction. The acoustic consultant will begin providing advice from concept design, and technical managers should take a prominent role by:
- helping to ensure the organisation’s acoustic design criteria are defined clearly in the design standards
- reinforcing the message to designers that an electroacoustic system is not a substitute for appropriate, optimised physical acoustics in each space
- reviewing use cases for all proposed learning and meeting spaces, ensuring space-specific acoustic criteria have been agreed with facilities management (and clearly communicated to the project team)
- reviewing advice and early designs to check criteria are being adopted, and to understand what performance is likely from each space. Where the performance appears unrealistic or unachievable, clarification should be sought from the design team and amendments agreed with all key stakeholders
- reviewing testing and acceptance criteria, where appropriate, to ensure more critical spaces are verified to perform as required
- during design and construction, several spaces will change function; and technical managers should check whether the applied criteria remain appropriate or need to change
- technical managers should understand any as-built measurements or other testing being conducted at various stages of the project in order to identify any perceived issues as early as possible – when deficiencies can be remedied with the lowest possible cost and impact on the construction programme.