A state-of-the-art sports and learning centre in Cambridge features a dramatic space-defining acoustic based on the use of MEDITE PREMIER FR fire rated panels from MEDITE SMARTPLY
The product was specified by architects Chadwick Dryer Clarke (CDC) for acoustic panelling in the new sports hall for the prestigious Stephen Perse Foundation senior school.
“MEDITE SMARTPLY forms a benchmark for us,” explained Mr Mark Clarke, Director at CDC, “and we have no hesitation in specifying their brand for our projects.
“We chose MEDITE PREMIER FR MDF in particular for this project as it achieved the required fire performance, which is paramount for a school building. It is also suitably robust and easily formed to create the perforations required for its acoustic performance. The fact that the product is sustainably produced is also an important factor for us.”
The sports hall is part of a complete new building designed by CDC, combining sports facilities with new classrooms and social learning spaces – this mixed use made careful consideration of acoustic performance essential. The decision to use acoustic panelling as a solution then provided the opportunity to create an opulent interior that would not only be functional but inspiring.
Mr Clarke said: “We wanted the panelling to be able perform a dual role: to temper the reverberation times within the large volume of the hall, and provide a high-quality finish that would define the space.”
Within the sports hall, approximately 530 MEDITE PREMIER FR panels were installed at high level above a storey-high ‘plinth’ of concrete blockwork. They were finished in RAL 7044, a silk grey tone, which complemented the treated cross-laminated timber (CLT) finish in other areas. The same product was also used around the building for the creation of architraves, skirtings and window linings.
Within England, Building Bulletin 93 sets out performance standards for acoustics in schools. As building regulations also state that within schools or similar public buildings a Euroclass B or C fire rated panel must be used and MEDITE PREMIER FR offers the perfect solution.
“The FR panels are lined at the rear with a black fleece and glass-wool insulation,” Mr Clarke explains. “This 28% open area absorbs sound and reduces the reverberation time, greatly improving the quality of the environment within the space.”
A social working environment and a sense of community was central to the project: an important internal space that would become one of the main hubs of activity in the school. The whole school community, including governors, teachers and pupils, was consulted as part of the design development to ensure the right performance and aesthetic could be achieved.
Mr Clarke said: “The eventual design solution sprang from conversations with the client team and a careful analysis of the opportunities of the site. It was like solving a puzzle: many of our projects share this problem-solving ethos. I was a challenge for all involved in its development and construction, but it has been very successful since handover and is proving to provide a highly satisfying new sequence of spaces for the school.”
The result is a functional, beautiful building, which uses calming colour and modern shapes to break up and add intriguing interest to the expanse of space within the immense, four-court sports hall.