Francis Crick Institute, London

Winner – Vibration Award 2017

Cole Jarman


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.

Crossrail Bond St: Contract 412

Bond Street Station is one of the most sensitive sites on the entire Crossrail route in terms of noise and vibration. The Western Ticket Hall is surrounded by residents and a number of sensitive commercial properties, including an antique emporium housing valuable objects that are susceptible to vibration. In contrast, the Eastern Ticket Hall is based in a predominantly commercial area. Despite these significant challenges, CSJV C412 were one of the first contractors to be awarded a ‘world class’ score in noise and vibration performance.


A detailed suite of objective performance measures were defined in order to measure contractor’s performance in construction noise management, covering factors considered critical to success. These measures formed part of Crossrail’s Performance Assurance tool (PAF) which sought to minimise impacts on people. This is quite different from controlling or minimising noise levels. Community response to noise is strongly influenced by people’s attitudes towards the noise creator. In the context of construction noise people are more likely to tolerate the noise if they consider that the noise is necessary and that all reasonable steps are being taken to control and minimise noise impacts (ref BS5228).


The PAF places as much, if not more, emphasis on community engagement and communication as it does on the physical aspects of controlling and minimising noise emission from the works.
The judges scored this highly in terms of complexity and managing the project. The application of established best practice to the control and mitigation of noise was critical in this sensitive location and the performance measures could be a real step forward in this field of work.