Acoustics case study

Brighton 3Ts Hospital, Royal Sussex County Hospital


3Ts stands for Trauma, Teaching and Tertiary Care. As the name suggests the new hospital has a wide range of facilities and uses. This large addition to the Royal Sussex County Hospital estate has been part of SRL’s project portfolio for more than 12 years. SRL was one of the design team members during the bid phases and our longevity has provided invaluable project knowledge as other team members have come and gone. This project represents phase 1 of a possible three-phase project. At a reported cost of £485M it is the largest healthcare project to be constructed using the P21 contractual framework.

SRL provided the full acoustic design from the project’s bidding phases through RIBA Stages 3 and 4, a comprehensive programme of site visits to monitor the acoustic quality of the construction and full acoustic commissioning testing of the finished building.


The finance model for the new hospital relied on a new Trauma capability. This required a helideck to get the most severely injured or unwell patients to the hospital more quickly and easily. The helideck was built on the roof of an existing building, a couple of floors above unwell babies in the Special Care Baby unit. A new trauma lift was also built to get patients at speed from the roof-top helideck to the emergency department at ground level.

SRL assessed the noise from helicopters landing and taking off, and the helideck and trauma lift construction noise impact on the occupants of the existing building. The impact on premature and unwell babies in the SCBU was one of the key issues and knowledge from medical and acoustic experts was combined to complete the assessment. 

The large hospital required a great deal of different uses, each one with an acoustic requirement. Special challenges included:

  • It is directly adjacent to one of Brighton’s busiest roads, full of noisy buses. 
  • The audiology department required very low noise levels to enable the most sensitive hearing to be tested. The department is directly above an underground car park, needed to provide much needed parking spaces. 
  • Three emergency standby generators providing emergency power but with a very high noise level, are just two floors below the most noise-sensitive accommodation.


SRL worked closely with the design team to develop a cost-effective acoustic design strategy for the new building which met the HTM08-01 criteria. This included:

  • an exoskeleton construction on the existing building to support the new helideck and trauma lift
  • a dropped concrete slab under the audiology department and “ceiling” construction within the car park to protect the audiology test rooms
  • an independent and fully-lined generator room to absorb and insulate noise transmission to the hospital
  • acoustically absorbent finishes in the large atrium spaces to accommodate a wide range of acoustic requirements
  • the building envelope and ventilation strategy to meet the indoor ambient noise level criteria
  • internal elements, e.g. partitions, floors, doors and glazed screens to meet the sound insulation criteria
  • room finishes to meet the reverberation time criteria
  • validating the building services design to see that noise from building services within rooms would met the environmental noise level criteria.

Incorporating the acoustic treatment needed in the generator room was a particular challenge. We worked with the team to adopt a comprehensive yet practical and pragmatic solution. This resolved the challenge of getting space-hungry noise control packs into the basement generator room. We incorporated acoustic absorption over the main entrance reception desk to improve speech communication with a visually-impressive and artistic solution.


In my role as a site construction manager/ package manager at Brighton 3Ts hospital, I was very pleased to have Richard Budd and the SRL team involved on the project. Richard demonstrated the value of a frequent and regular site presence in achieving the acoustic performance required for the project. His input enabled us to accommodate pragmatic acoustic solutions in an acute hospital design and installation environment where there many other significant and competing demands, all of which must be achieved.  Having SRL’s presence on site not only helped members of our own team understand acoustic fundamentals it also helped our subcontractors to be involved and understand this too.  SRL carried out frequent onsite checks and tests during the build scheme to ensure compliance and details were being followed from the start, this for me is key to ensuring a project doesn’t go too far in before highlighting major acoustic concerns/issues.  Richard explained acoustic risks alongside ideal solutions and enabled us to determine the best course of action, and lead to the acoustic objectives for the project being demonstrated as achieved.

Richard is held in high regard by my colleagues in design roles who he worked closely with during the earliest stages of the project. There were significant and unusual acoustic challenges which he supported the design team to resolve. These included the noise impact to patients of the helipad construction and operation on an existing tower building, the acoustic environment within a large 3 storey entrance atrium, and a retrofit of noise control to the generator hall after the orientation intended noise control packages were omitted from the scheme.

I look forward to working with Richard and his team on phase 2 at Brighton in the near future.  Their knowledge and professionalism are outstanding.

Paul Grabowski MCIOB
Construction Manager
Laing O’Rourke Construction South