Top-class performance in Derby

Ceiling and walling products used in Derby’s striking new velodrome and sports arena set a high standard of performance for its users to aspire to

In association with
A suite of Knauf’s ceiling and wall products were used in the arena.
A suite of Knauf’s ceiling and wall products were used in the arena.

Derby Arena is a striking building, built as one of the legacy projects after the 2012 Olympic Games. It also demonstrates the breadth of products and the depth of technical support available from Knauf, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of lightweight building materials and systems.

Designed by award-winning architect FaulknerBrowns, the arena’s three-dimensional curves and huge scale set complex challenges for both main contractor Bowmer & Kirkland and drylining contractor Taylor Hart in regard to the installation of the ceilings and internal walls. Solutions were found with Knauf’s technical support.

The finished building contains a suite of Knauf ceiling and walling products: Cleaneo Akustik in the gyms, Interior Aquapanel in the showers, Shaftwall for the lifts, and Knauf MP75 Projection Plaster for the blockwork and performance boards such as Soundshield, Fireshield, Impact Panel and Wallboard.

Nigel Tye, the project architect for FaulknerBrowns, says Knauf’s specialist products proved ideal for the practical and aesthetic issues raised: ‘The Knauf Cleaneo Akustik perforated ceiling products were a perfect visual and technical solution to areas with double curving geometry and requiring enhanced sound absorption, including the fitness gym and foyer ceilings.’

FaulknerBrowns’ striking design provides Derby with a new landmark.
FaulknerBrowns’ striking design provides Derby with a new landmark.

Designed to absorb sound (reverberant) energy, the perforations in Cleaneo Akustik disrupt the sound’s path as it passes through, taking energy out on its return and reducing echoes in a room. Specifiers can effectively tune a space for clarity of speech or music by their choice of pattern, using Knauf insulation or adjusting the void depth.

Used with either Cleaneo Akustik Wall liner or Knauf MF Ceiling, the Cleaneo Akustik range can provide fully warranted acoustic systems that use fast drywall construction techniques to supply unparalleled sound absorption. These ceiling systems, used in conjunction with specific boards in the range, can achieve the industry-leading Class B rating, as classified in accordance with BS EN ISO 11654.

Even with a void depth of just 65mm, Cleaneo Akustik Ceiling systems achieve a minimum Class D rating for sound absorption – while increasing the void depth and adding insulation with selected boards will improve the performance as required.

A striking seamless finish is made possible by using Cleaneo Akustik boards with Knauf Uniflott to create a strong, tapeless joint. An FF edge profile ensures the boards are correctly spaced and limits bulging of the paper liner under humidity. This edge detail also reduces the depth of the joint between boards and closes it on three sides, producing a stronger joint, to reduce the risk of cracking.

Knauf was introduced to the project in the design stages at the suggestion of Phil Taylor, director of Taylor Hart, who says input from the technical team was helpful in value engineering the specification to deliver the required performance for the least cost.

Versatile systems

Jean Paul Colback, technical manager at FaulknerBrowns, agrees: ‘In addition to ceilings, the versatility of Knauf systems was then shown to satisfy the many varying performance requirements for the internal partitions,’ he recalls.

‘The fire strategy and acoustic design required fire resistance of between 30 and 60 minutes, sound insulation NFR values ranging from 35 to 50dB and heights up to 8m. Also there was a need for impact resistance in certain areas, adding to the technical demands on the systems. Often one partition required several of these.’

FaulknerBrowns says Knauf’s excellent technical support was critical in rationalising the performance requirements and making appropriate use of boards such as Impact Panel, Soundshield, Fireshield and Wallboard to reduce the number of combinations, with subsequent benefits for work on site.

For instance, using one layer of 15mm Soundshield can provide the same acoustic performance that conventionally might be achieved using two 12.5mm boards on either side of a partition. Using Knauf Performer partitions clad with Soundshield each side, and the latest Resilient Bar technology, can achieve up to 65dB (Rw) within an overall width of just 164mm. Impact Panel not only provides a superb, durable finish but is also easily repaired should any damage occur. Impact Panel can also be combined with other Knauf products to give a superior acoustic performance of up to 57dB (Rw).

Derby Arena sets a new standard for local authority sports facilities, providing an aspirational and invigorating place to participate in sport. It incorporates a unique raised 250m indoor cycle track which allows unimpeded access  to a multi-use sports infield below, the size of 12 badminton courts. When combined with the 1500 seater grandstand, this area creates a cultural and music events space capable of accommodating 5000 spectators.

Extensive café, foyer, fitness and multi-function rooms flank one side of the cycle track with the spectator grandstand opposite. The dynamic external form, which tightly wraps the internal accommodation, provides a new civic landmark for Derby.



Huge bridge projects from Bahrain to Washington are benefiting from the input of this small consultancy, our second Future Winner of 2020, based near Bridport on the Jurassic Coast

Boring, dirty projects? Bring them on

With CVs grounded in the London offices of Hopkins and Arup, this family team – the first of RIBAJ's 2020 Future Winners – has ambitions way beyond its Marlow base

Meet the first of this year's Future Winners, an ex-Hopkins pair with big league skills

As London’s ExCel Centre is hastily turned into a hospital for coronavirus patients, Hugh Pearman talks to Architects for Health chair Christopher Shaw about the priorities and practicalities of emergency conversions

The people supplying 20,000 more acute beds in three to six weeks

Logicor's Clear Heater System turns the traditional approach to domestic heating upside down to halve energy requirements

Halve energy need without elaborate installation

Too many ‘sustainable’ credits for buildings refer only to operation, but embodied energy accounts for much carbon output. There are digital tools to help green your design

How to count the carbon in your design