The art of acoustics

Manchester School of Art, in the UK’s original industrial heartland, recentlycelebrated its 175th birthday. As a part of a substantial retrofit, acoustic panels in the ceilings serve to avoid noise pollution in the open spaces of the Building.

Troldtekt, Manchester School of Art
Photo: Hufton + Crow

Now it is enjoying a new major extension which has not only generated much interest but was a 2014 contender for the renowned Stirling Prize awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects for the best building. It was the only building which included a substantial retrofit.

Designed by architects Feiden Clegg Bradley, it aims to provide a lively environment and help reassert the Art School and the University on the national stage. It retains the original brief that one of its major purposes is to help students bridge the gap between education and professional life. It is also an interesting showcase for demonstrating how noise pollution in large crowded spaces can be overcome by installing Troldtekt acoustic panels.

The architects’ concept is a modern interpretation of the traditional Manchester textile trade warehouse, comprising a highly visible seven storey Vertical Gallery space together with an interactive ‘hybrid’ studio behind. With its vast glazed facade, it is also a place which proudly showcases its students’ work to all who pass by in the street - described as being more like a metropolitan art gallery than a university department. It’s a factory-like place where students can see each other’s different work and exchange ideas.

The potential noise pollution from its large open spaces has been solved by installing white painted 1200 x 600mm Troldtekt acoustic panels on the ceilings. The panels were specified not only because of their long established performance reputation but because they are made with 100% natural wood fibres mixed with cement which means that the interior environment benefits from high sound absorption, high durability, natural breathability, low cost life cycle performance and sustainability.

David Crow, Dean of Manchester School of Art says, ‘This is a building that is proud of its product and shows the work to everyone. It’s a hugely exciting arena where anything is possible and everything is relevant'.