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Improving acoustic comfort in Doncaster school learning pods

OVERVIEW

After embarking on a project to create high quality new learning pods to enhance its facilities, the last thing teachers, staff and children at Carr Lodge Academy in Doncaster were expecting was for excessive background noise to be so much of an issue that it stood in the way of their ability to use and enjoy them.


The school wanted to create learning pods for each of its 1-6 year groups to provide a facility that could be used for extra learning, small group teaching or a break-out space for teachers and children.

The building contractor appointed to construct the pods worked to an agreed specification and design, but the acoustic conditions that would result from the proposed usage of the spaces, the positioning of the pods and choice of materials for their fit-out was not fully realised.


It was only when teachers and staff started using the learning pods that problems with echo and excessive sound reverberation were fully realised. This is a common acoustic issue which results from interiors that feature lots of hard, harsh reflective surfaces with the ultimate impact at Carr Lodge being that the pods were unsuitable for their purpose.


The school sought specialist assistance to resolve the issues which started with an acoustic assessment and detailed acoustic report. And following a competitive tendering process, Hush Acoustics was appointed to complete the acoustic upgrade using its sound absorber panels.


How absorption resolved the issue


The solution involved manufacturing and installing a series of Hush Absorber 50 panels which were strategically mounted on the walls of the learning pods. The Class A absorber panels are formulated using a 50mm thick acoustic foam which is hand finished in a high quality fabric applied on the face, edges and back – at Carr Lodge, the panels feature a green fabric to match the school’s aesthetics and contribute to the welcoming environment.


Various sizes of panels were installed to fit the differing sized spaces within the school. Their positioning was dependent on the size and the layout of the learning pod for the year group.


Some year group pods, for example, feature desks, so absorber panels have been installed to be continuous along the desk line, helping the children hear what is being said by teachers. In other desk-free learning pods, the panels were positioned on the walls – symmetrically where possible – to deliver an aesthetically pleasing and acoustically -effective result.


Hush Absorber 50 panels work by absorbing soundwaves generated by speech and other sources in a way that hard surfaces such as plastered walls, wood and laminates do not. As a result, less sound is reflected back into the room, so the level of ambient noise is dramatically reduced to deliver a more acoustically comfortable environment that is far more conducive to learning.


‘Huge difference’ to the learning environment


Sarah Crampton, Principal at Carr Lodge Academy said: “Sound reverberation was causing us real problems and it meant that the learning pods – although fantastic in principle – simply didn’t serve the purpose for which they were intended.


“The sound absorber panels have made a huge difference to the useability of our learning pods and provided a solution that did not require major, disruptive work. The quality of the solution provided by the Hush Acoustics team, and their service overall, has impressed everyone involved in this project.”

Products featured in this case study

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Hush Absorber 50

Hush Absorber 50

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