The Association of Noise Consultants annual conference and dinner was held in Birmingham on the 21st September. It was a great opportunity to meet others in the industry and learn about new developments in acoustics.
The dinner concluded with the ANC awards which recognise excellence among UK acoustic consultants. We are delighted to say that Acoustic Consultants Ltd won the award for the best Building Acoustics project for our work on a film studios that included five sound stages within a single building.
In July 2021 we were approached by RD Content, an international content production company, who were in the process of designing a new studio building in West London. The aim was to have the facilities operating by April 2022.
The project included the conversion of a Portal Frame B2/B8 building to form five sound stages, each with production facilities, and of different sizes to accommodate a range of productions. The works were to take place within the fabric of the existing building and the external envelope and floor could not be altered.
The client requirement was that the sound insulation between studios would allow simultaneous use of each sound stage without it adversely effecting sound recording in any other space. Furthermore, the room acoustics needed to be suitable for audio recording and so too did noise from building services.
The sustainable approach of re-utilising an existing building in a highly accessible location introduced a number of issues in terms of acoustic separation. The existing building was of lightweight construction with no significant sound insulating properties and was unable to support the additional mass that would be required. As a standard B2/B8 unit, access was provided only from the front and there was no space around the building to provide additional external access points to the individual sound stages.
The solution to this was to provide individual structural frames that could support not only the mass of twin skin acoustic walls and ceilings but also the weight of trusses and services. Ceiling depth needed to be kept to a minimum as height within a sound stage is essential for lighting.
The layout included a central street from which each sound stage was accessed. This access included a personnel door as well as a 4.5m by 6m get-in door. Normally a sound stage would fill an entire building or be accessed from outside.
With a small design team (the client, two architects and us along with steel frame, plasterboard and building services sub-contractors) we were integrally involved in the developing design of the sound stages.
This included revising the external studio walls to incorporate the existing structure which significantly reduced the required plasterboard and increased the studio floor area. We worked with all designers to develop the interface details between the frame, boarding and existing building envelope; advising on how fixings for the lighting truss and services could be accomplished without effecting the acoustic integrity of the spaces; all the way down to considering vibration isolation of macerators within the production areas to avoid noise.
The project timescales were very short and we used our knowledge not just of acoustics but also of how the design and construction process as a whole supported the project, to enable the project to be completed on time and on budget. All the acoustic requirements set out at the beginning of the project were met.
Whilst this is not the only studio project under development or the only one using an existing building. RD studios are unique in that they have re-utilised an existing building on a constrained site to produce five sound stages in a single building.
Through very high-quality acoustic design and installation, all sound stages can be used simultaneously, all project requirements were met and the studios are regularly exceeding the expectations of a sound stage for the productions that use it.
By demonstrating that this type of design and project is feasible, it enables development of similar sites which allow them to be in highly sustainable locations and on sites that would otherwise not be considered possible.
The awards judges recognised the importance of good acoustic design and how the input of highly knowledgeable acoustic consultants can lead to a successful project. They said:
“This was a very challenging project due to multiple studios which need to be used simultaneously so the acoustics and sound insulation had to be right. Overall, the judges felt it was a good design through meticulous attention to detail which the time and budgetary constraints made even more impressive.”
More importantly, our clients were delighted with the results.
Ryan Dean, Founder of RD
“RD Studios has now been open a year, and has already hosted some of the world’s biggest television shows (like Ted Lasso) and stars (Johnny Depp) as well as the biggest content producers (Disney, Apple, Netflix and Amazon).
The feedback we have received from producers has been unanimous, these sound stages are the pinnacle of what exists around the world right now in terms of performance. We have been pleasantly surprised by how much the studios have been embraced by the music industry too, playing host to artists like Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton for recording and for major venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Liverpool Philharmonic for rehearsals.
I am extremely proud of what we have built, and how we have innovated, and we would not have been able to do it without the support of Dan and the Acoustic Consultants Team.”
Stephanie Cheung, RD, Head of Architecture and Development
“RD Studio’s success is largely attributed to the Core design team including Dan and his team from Acoustic Consultants. From the outset, Dan’s team showed great attention to detail in understanding our unique brief and specific user requirements. When unforeseen challenges arose during the intense design period, their team had no issues in adapting and swiftly collaborating with the wider project team to find and deliver solutions. Their expertise and guidance right through to Construction and Project completion, was an invaluable asset and we are already looking forward to working with them again on our next project.”