The new Quest Academy, which opened in September 2019, is run by the MacIntyre Academies Trust and caters for 80 students aged between 7 and 19 years who have additional needs associated with an autistic spectrum condition (ASC) or social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties. SRL provided the full acoustic design from RIBA Stage 3 onwards and helped the main contractor to deliver the project through RIBA work stages 4 to 7 with site support and commissioning testing of the finished building.
Pupils with autism and SEMH difficulties are often very sensitive to noise. The design of Quest Academy was therefore based on meeting the BB93 criteria for “teaching spaces intended specifically for students with special hearing and communication needs”. These criteria are more onerous than the criteria for mainstream education buildings and include lower internal ambient noise levels.
SRL worked closely with the design team to develop a cost-effective acoustic design strategy for the new building which met the BB93 criteria. This included:
- 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; and
- validating the building services design to ensure that noise from building services within rooms met the indoor ambient noise level criteria.
We helped the architect to specify suitable acoustically absorbent ceilings which had enhanced low frequency absorption properties. This avoided the need for specialist (and expensive) low frequency absorbers and enabled the money saved to be spent elsewhere on the project.