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Robinson College University of Cambridge –
Crausaz Wordsworth Building

Bespoke sound absorbent surface finishes in plenary room
Design & Build Contract
Value: £34m

The scope of this project was to provide acoustic design advice for a new seminar building, during the design and construction stages.

The design stage involved a detailed assessment of:

  • the proposed construction of walls and floors along with guidance on alternative construction materials to meet appropriate sound insulation standards;
  • the proposed mechanical ventilation system noise levels and specification of attenuator performance values to meet both the internal noise level targets and the external plant noise criteria stipulated by the Local Authority; and
  • the sound absorption properties of the proposed surface finishes to enable the prediction of reverberation times at the frequencies most relevant for speech communication.

One of the main challenges of this project was the prediction of mid-frequency reverberation time within the plenary room. This is the main meeting space in the building and the architect desired a predominantly timber finish on the walls. Perforated timber, with sound absorptive material behind, was selected as this room needed a relatively low reverberation time. The installation of proprietary perforated timber panels was explored but none were in keeping with the desired aesthetics. Instead, a bespoke option was developed whereby the necessary size and spacing of the perforations were specified along with the performance of the sound absorptive material which would be positioned behind the timber.

The desired mid-frequency reverberation time was confirmed by acoustic testing upon completion of the construction stage.

Project Team

Contractor: Barnes Construction
Acoustic Consultancy: Applied Acoustic Design