Bennetts Hill is a popular street and business district in central Birmingham, and comprises many businesses, housed in fine 19th and 20th century architecture. For this project, we were commissioned to conduct acoustic treatment in the meeting room for one of the offices on the street, which will soon host global engineering firm AECOM.
The high, domed ceiling of this section of the building caused excessive reverberation, which is especially problematic as the space primarily serves as a conference room. This echo meant that meetings suffered, as participants were unable to hear each other clearly, particularly when multiple people were speaking at once.
In addition to the negative acoustic properties of the dome, the shape, combined with the fact that it is an older property, also posed some additional challenges. Standard rafts cannot be suspended from the ceiling, both because this is a listed building, and because of the dome’s construction.
In order to combat the excessive reverberation in this conference room, we advised the client that installing suspended rafts would be an effective and attractive solution.
We used an innovative horizontal suspension system that meant the walls could bear the load of the acoustic rafts and lighting, rather than the ceiling. By using thin gauge suspension wires, the circular rafts, with lights installed in the centre, are now the focal point of the room. Rather than forming a suspended ceiling that would hide the building’s attractive architecture, these neutral-coloured rafts still allow those in the room to see the domed ceiling. They also serve as a housing for the room’s down lighting.
We chose to use Ecophon Solo rafts on this project, due to their light weight and excellent acoustic properties.
We’re delighted with both the acoustic and aesthetic results of this project. The rafts have created a beautiful centrepiece to the room that makes this Victorian building feel more modern, and reverberation is down to a much more comfortable level.