Our project story

The Manchester College, City Campus.

Performance Arts

Manchester, UK.

Project Lead:
Al Plail

Working collaboratively.
Achieving acoustic detail.

Challenge accepted.

Designed to inspire the next generation, the Manchester College city campus is a centre of excellence for performing/visual arts, creative and digital media, computing and hospitality. This unique project was about creating professional facilities that help prepare students for industry. A mixture of technical excellence, collaboration, creative contribution, and cooperation was needed to achieve the high expectations on a tightly controlled budget.

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From early concept through to completion, it has been exciting to play a part in developing these premier facilities for the future talents of Manchester and beyond.
Al Plail, Principal Acoustics Engineer

The vital ingredients.

We were challenged with creating a compact configuration of different uses within the space available, so tailored acoustic design was essential to provide suitable acoustic separation between the specialist departments. Inside each of the spaces, sound quality would be a vital ingredient, so we knew proactive engagement would be needed to integrate the room acoustic treatments alongside noise-controlled building services. Our client’s aspirations for the recording studio areas were particularly high, so careful consideration of their geometric form and room proportions was required.

Ambitions and aspirations.

From the outset, we listened – establishing from the client and end users their ambitions and aspirations for a world class building. The main atrium’s theatre (aka the ‘Jewel Box’) needed to house theatre productions as well as touring concerts and acts, and had an open-plan LRC located directly above. In response, we designed high levels of sound insulation to control noise break-in and break-out. Our approach was to develop a box-in-box solution that featured an independent frame, lobbied doors and floating floors on discrete isolation bearings. We were also able to provide a design-stage ‘Value Engineering’ exercise, which demonstrated the benefits of significantly reconfiguring the building.

Acoustic quality.

As overall ‘project acoustician’ representing both client and contractor interests, we were able to help expedite both the decision-making process and the resolution of issues on site – giving us ultimate control of the acoustic quality of the competed building. During the construction period, we provided a proactive on-site presence and a cooperative attitude. This was vital to assist with resolving practical construction challenges to deliver the demanding brief and coordinate the overall architecture with congested services and a complex base-build structure. Together, we were able to achieve sound insulation performances of up to Dw 81 dB between recording studio spaces.

Delivering on a professional-level.

This ambitious project will provide not only the setting for student’s experiences of university life but the industry-standard facilities they need to prepare for their careers beyond education. Delivering on professional-level acoustic quality was a vital aspect of this. Our client’s aspiration to create a state-of-the-art education facility was achieved, and we look forward to seeing the next generation of students make the most of these high quality spaces, and indeed the city of Manchester to enjoy.
Key Figures
18,500 m2 gross internal area
200 seat Main Theatre
100 seat Studio Theatre
Highly Commended ANC Awards

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This project was a great example of a highly effective collaboration between acoustic consultant and architect. The amalgamation of different teaching departments, each with their own set of specialist briefs, required thorough engagement through the early design stages to ensure excellent acoustic quality.
James Woodhouse, Project Architect, Bond Bryan Architects

Project Lead:
Al Plail

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