Integrated acoustic design in remodelled schools
This week there was the Remodelling Education Conference in Manchester, UK
Attending the conference this week, it was good to hear acoustic issues coming to the fore many times over the 2 days which were also fully explored during the workshop discussion "Integrated acoustic design in remodelled schools"
The relationship between acoustic conditions and educational outcomes was generally accepted by those present.
· Design to BB93 should be the aim, even in refurbishment. However, a pragmatic approach is required in situations where this is not achievable.
· The design of spaces for pupils with SEN or hearing impairment may require consideration beyond that given in BB93.
· Space planning is crucial in order to maximise the inherent acoustic benefits of the refurbished building and to minimise the requirement for mechanical ventilation, high performance walls and floors, etc as far as possible.
· Every school is different; there is value in engagement with the school to understand their drivers and aspirations with regard to acoustics.
· There was some debate as to whether soundfield systems provide useful acoustic enhancement with some participants feeling such systems are unnecessary when the acoustic design of a space is correct.
· Although acoustics is moving up the design agenda, it was generally felt that it should be considered at the start of the design process to avoid costly changes and add-ons later.
Other hot session topics at the conference:
Ensuring a successful future for England's education spaces in a time of change
Transforming a neglected space into a successful school
Remodelling UK schools to a successful Swedish school model (free schools) - (re-thinking current models)
An overview of independent schools in Sweden (Swedish Asociation of Independent Schools)
All the above can be viewed on the conference website Remodelling Education Conference
Conference chair was Sharon Wright of Creative Wit - Innovative thinking in the public sector