TupTup Palace, Newcastle

Winner – Environmental Noise Award 2017

Apex Acoustic


TupTup Palace, Newcastle

This project illustrates a ground-breaking approach to solving the problem of noise from nightclub smoking areas. The modelling techniques, solutions to controlling noise break out through doors, and control of noise from patrons in the smoking area have the potential for wide application in addressing this perpetual problem.  The consultants took room acoustics modelling methods and applied them to environmental noise propagation, appreciating that understanding the limitations of using the software in this manner is key to its successful application.


A novel approach to reducing noise generated by patrons in the alley was adopted by having a walk-through attenuator in front of the doors, sound absorption on the walls and rafts above the alley.  The concept is an extension of a “sound lobby”, but built entirely externally within the alley due to space constraints inside the building.  The smoking shelter guidelines were re-evaluated to enable design of compliant spaces capable of providing acoustic screening.


The client said: ”We had tried everything we could think of to reduce the noise but could not stop the complaints from the residents. Apex Acoustics came with a scientific approach to understanding the problem, and totally out-of-the-box solutions that we would never have thought of.


The judges recognised that this addresses a current issue with an innovative approach to a significant problem. It was a clever approach to take indoor noise modelling and use it outdoors and then design sound barrier and absorption panels to cope with the noise.

Francis Crick Institute, London

This is a unique building housing over 1200 scientists in a world class research facility in an unconventional location.  Although well connected for rail, Eurostar, London Underground and major road routes, their proximity create significant sources of ground borne vibration. Furthermore, mechanical services plant linked to the laboratories, provide more sources of vibration.


The design team and vibration consultants collaborated with the other disciplines to consider the building to unprecedented levels of detail to address these conflicting requirements. Any process inside the building with the potential to generate vibration was reviewed and assessed, with mitigation incorporated to reduce the risk.


Impressive in its own right visually, few will realise the interior vibration environment was one of the key design drivers.  This project shows how giving due credence to the discipline of vibration design can create world class facilities in what would otherwise be considered sub-prime locations.  As well as the design process, there was scrutiny to ensure the full execution of design measures during construction. The end result is a low vibration environment in the building, which can easily be missed on a visit.


The architects commented: “The vibration consultants were integral to the design and realisation of an exceptional interactive, open environment, encouraging collaboration across disciplines and a highly flexible structure that will easily adapt to accommodate the rapid developments of scientific discovery”


The judges were impressed by the interlinked vibration projects which make it unique, as well as the amount of work invested in the design. It is an incredible project which had to achieve the right outcome to enable the building to operate.  The size, location and complexity make it stand out as the winner of this year’s award.

New Adelphi Building, University of Salford

A new performing arts building, which brings many disciplines under one roof. The consultants provided design advice on all architectural acoustics, working with the design team and client to accommodate all proposed spaces within the building, while still providing high levels of sound insulation between the spaces and adequately controlling noise egress from performance and rehearsal spaces. Auralisation of airborne sound insulation for the music/drama spaces was used to demonstrate the targeted standards to the client, using measurements from band rehearsals and music lessons at the university.


The judges noted this was a large project with complex sound insulation requirements. It had highly elegant solutions internally, complex acoustic detailing and displayed integrated architecture and acoustic design. They were impressed by the use of a box within a box design and that recording studios, music and drama spaces had been provided in a location so close to the railway.


The building houses many different performing arts spaces. The majority require low background noise levels and generate high sound levels. It also forms an entrance from the railway station into the campus and is a cut-through at lower levels. The A6 main road is 130m south of the site and Salford Crescent station is 60m west.


The architects, Stride Treglowan, said: “The acoustic consultancy worked well as part of a cross functional design team and their knowledge and experience of the other design disciplines was helpful to the development of the overall design. The acoustic design of the building enabled the multi-use building …. to function as intended.”

Steiner Academy, Frome

The project posed a number of challenges, namely a material with inherently poor sound insulation performance (Cross Laminated Timber) and a design with a strong aesthetic that exposes the CLT as much as possible. The consultants were required to improve the accuracy of their sound insulation models so to determine where CLT could be exposed and where it needed to be dry-lined. This required detailed reviews of construction data as well as calibration of modelling to on-site testing of similar CLT structures. The result is a project that meets all the proposed sound insulation targets with a minimal impact on the architectural vision.


The CLT elements of Steiner Academy Frome proved to be a challenging aspect of the acoustic design. In order to achieve the high sound insulation targets required for the various teaching spaces, on-site test data of other CLT projects was used to calibrate Bastian models. Input was provided to CLT thicknesses, slab breaks and minimal wall linings to allow the CLT structure to be as exposed. To determine the amount of flanking each CLT slab would provide the varying stiffness qualities of the CLT structure was assessed so to gain a more accurate understanding of the buildings acoustic behaviour. This information was entered into a spread sheet model using the guidance given in BS12354 and semi mirrored with the results provided by Bastian.


The judges considered this to be the most innovative entry and were impressed by the performance obtained using CLT, especially as the brief had required this to be kept exposed. Acoustic designs such as these and use of natural materials demonstrates how consultants can work with low carbon materials to enhance the public profile of the acoustics.

Virtual Acoustic Reality

This project is a unique and cutting-edge tool for both clients and design teams and could transform building and infrastructure design with a combination of audio-prediction modelling and gaming-quality graphics. It involves the design and development of a portable, interactive audio and visual virtual experience.  Acoustics is often referred to as a dark art. It is full of different notations and definitions and a lot of time is spent trying to convey the meaning of these to the design team and to clients.  Acousticians specify products designed to control the reverberation time, but what does a reverberation time of 0.8 s actually sound like? When a contractor value engineers a design and noise levels increase by 5 dB, how will that change the sound?


VAR links a powerful 3D graphics programme with the CATT Acoustic software to enable clients and the design team to fully immerse themselves within a virtual world and be able to walk around the building, whilst listening to the audio signal change in real time.


The judges recognised that this entry was slightly different from what they had expected but it was very relevant to building acoustics.   It was a fantastic tool to engage the client very early in a project about the importance of the correct acoustics. It would also be useful for the design teams to try different solutions before committing to a particular design and it helps to demystify acoustics and raises the bar in client engagement and empowerment.  For innovation and contribution to acoustics and public perception, this is the award winner.