Leading architects BDP’s work on the recently completed Grace Academy, at Solihull in the West Midlands, included the selection of SAS’s advanced System 600 metal suspended acoustic ceiling rafts. The co-educational City Academy for 11-18 year olds is designed to accommodate over 1,350 pupils.
This environment required a robust solution which also met the demands for acoustic performance, increasingly recognised as an important factor in new school buildings. The absorption performance provided by the ceiling rafts was key to reducing reverberation times, or ‘echo’ in the school, thereby improving the ‘speech intelligibility’ – essential for effective pupil/teacher communication.
In the individual classrooms, laboratory areas, corridors, the Lecture Theatre and the Assembly Hall, acoustic ceiling rafts were chosen. Perforations in the rafts allow sound to travel through to acoustic pads, achieving acoustic absorption. Additionally reflected sound from the open structural soffit is absorbed into the top of the acoustic pads. Luminaires were suspended between the flat rafts to add to the clean, modern look creating a comfortable lighting environment.
In the remaining areas of the building swing down SAS System 150 tiles were specified. In potential high humidity areas, kitchens and changing rooms, the tiles were painted on both sides to avoid long term water damage. SAS System 150 is a traditional metal suspended ceiling system with tiles that pivot and slide within the suspension grid providing access to large areas of the ceiling void.
With the exposed concrete slabs between the SAS System 600 rafts and the open soffit, sustainable natural mass cooling can also be achieved. This ability to moderate temperature is now part of the system that BDP is developing for all future schools projects.
The new £20m Academy replaced Whitesmore School in Chelmsley Wood, which provided the opportunity to specify the most modern solutions which BDP has successfully employed.