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Designing acoustic solutions for university buildings

New research hub in Birmingham provides a base for around 500 molecular scientists. A quiet and comfortable working environment was an essential part of the brief

In association with
Associated Architects' Molecular Sciences Building was completed in October 2023 for the Schools of Chemistry, Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham.
Associated Architects' Molecular Sciences Building was completed in October 2023 for the Schools of Chemistry, Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

The University of Birmingham’s new landmark Molecular Sciences Building, which opened earlier this year, was designed by Associated Architects. Specialist contractors were Morgan Sindall and Titan Interior Solutions.

It is a state-of-the-art hub for the university’s ground-breaking research and academic work across chemical, environmental and bio-molecular sciences and  provides inclusive and flexible facilities for a variety of different users.

Ceiling and wall solutions at the Molecular Sciences Building

The acoustic performance of the building was enhanced with a suite of high performance ceiling and wall acoustic solutions from OWA UK.

The manufacturer’s comprehensive product range enabled the project team to devise tailored solutions to meet the different acoustic requirements of the building while creating a consistent and stylish aesthetic.

The OWAtecta S39 demountable hook-on metal ceiling system, specified with a 55% open area, was used in the laboratories. These flexible metal ceiling panels were combined with black acoustic fleece and class A pads, but in some areas were supplied without either to support the specific ventilation strategy required for the lab spaces.

In the offices and study rooms, OWA UK’s new S80 demountable metal ceiling rafts were installed to mask the major mechanical and electrical services, while still enabling easy access for maintenance.

Designed to meet the aesthetic and acoustic requirements of the varying spaces, the metal rafts were specified in eight different rectangular sizes. Irregular trapezoidal-shaped versions were installed in the lift lobbies.

The rafts were fitted with class A pads to maximise acoustic absorption, with these areas also benefitting from OWA UK’s Freestyle acoustic wall panels.

  • Design centrepiece: the showcase staircase with OWA UK's bespoke, perforated OWAtecta panels.
    Design centrepiece: the showcase staircase with OWA UK's bespoke, perforated OWAtecta panels.
  • Corridor with OWA UK's OWAtecta S16 tubular baffles.
    Corridor with OWA UK's OWAtecta S16 tubular baffles.
  • Libray with OWA UK's OWAconsult FreeStyle baffles.
    Libray with OWA UK's OWAconsult FreeStyle baffles.
  • Laboratory with OWA UK's OWAtecta S39 hook-on and S36 lay-on panels.
    Laboratory with OWA UK's OWAtecta S39 hook-on and S36 lay-on panels.
  • Study room with OWA UK's OWAtecta S80 demountable rafts and OWAconsult FreeStyle wall absorbers.
    Study room with OWA UK's OWAtecta S80 demountable rafts and OWAconsult FreeStyle wall absorbers.
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In the main communal areas of the building, various OWA UK ceiling systems were installed to control the acoustic reverberation, hide mechanical and electrical installations and improve aesthetics.

For the corridors, OWA UK supplied its OWAtecta S16 tubular aluminium baffle system finished in Pearl Copper (RAL 8029), the primary colour of the design scheme.

The regularly spaced tubes are fitted with full-length, integrated LED lights. OWA’s bespoke perforated metal bulkhead panels in the same Pearl Copper finish sit alongside the tubes. The laboratory corridor spaces feature the OWAtecta S36 lay-on, clear spanning, metal plank system.

The main staircase that leads to an upper atrium is the design centrepiece of the new Molecular Sciences Building. Here, OWA UK supplied various acoustic ceiling solutions, including bespoke rectangular panels beneath the stair runs and segmented panels beneath the semi-circular half landings. These too were finished in Pearl Copper to create the focal point of the building.

For more information and technical support, visit owa-ceilings.co.uk

Contact:
enquiries@owa-ceilings.co.uk


 

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