An acoustics year in review and looking ahead to 2024
From improving the acoustic conditions in schools and open plan offices, to soundproofing solutions for mill conversions and helping homeowners cut noise between properties, the range of projects in which Hush Acoustics products and systems have been used over the last 12 months has been as diverse as ever.
Providing neighbourly harmony
At the beginning of 2023, the Hush team was contacted by the owner of a semi-detached house in Hackney who was looking for a way to upgrade the acoustic performance of a separating wall in an effort to improve the quality of life for their neighbours. Party walls in most existing ‘connected homes’ are not often built to a standard that offers a high level of sound insulation, but they can be upgraded with the right advice and products as the project demonstrated.
The new acoustic wall lining provided by Hush meant the brick wall could be upgraded to have more mass and density – essential for blocking sound waves generated through speech and activities such as children playing – without adding significantly to the wall depth in order to preserve floor space.
Creating a new party wall in a split house conversion
The sound-insulating properties of a party wall were equally high on the agenda of an architect who contacted Hush later in the year. In this project, a large single dwelling was being converted into two side-by-side semi-detached houses, so it was necessary to ensure the newly created party wall complied with the minimum acoustic standards set out in Approved Document E.
Hush provided comprehensive acoustic design guidance to help the architect achieve the optimum separating wall design. This included advice in areas that are often overlooked, such as the risks associated with adjoining stairs, connected floors and balancing loss of floor space with acoustic performance.
Sound advice for Victorian mill conversions
In the space of 12 months, the Hush team has also been involved in advising the developers and contractors involved in two projects where an old mill building has been transformed into residential accommodation compliant with 21st-century living standards.
In January, Hush published the story behind the acoustic design for the Old Mill House in a village called Diggle on the western edge of the Pennines. This required an acoustic design for the flooring, which incorporated underfloor heating and unusual floor finishes such as stone tiling, and the separating walls where two specifications were developed according to the construction type.
In the second half of 2023, the team was privileged to be involved in the conversion of a large Victorian mill building near Hebden Bridge. The creation of high-specification residential dwellings at Old Town Mill, overlooking the Calder Valley, was an extensive project which required specialist acoustic advice to deliver sound insulation levels which were far better than the minimum standards demanded by Approved Document E.
Solutions for nuisance reverberation
Not all Hush projects involve sound transmission through the building structure, however. The team has worked with numerous clients during the last 12 months to address poor acoustic conditions inside buildings including schools, colleges and offices.
In March, Hush provided a number of sound absorber panels for a large open-plan office near Glasgow. The project at the regional office of Hush Acoustics’ parent company Galaxy Insulation was undertaken to reduce levels of background noise, but the panels also helped to enhance the décor as they feature photo prints of famous Glasgow landmarks.
Schools were the focus in London, as Hush was tasked with reducing reverberation in two projects at the same school. Originally known as Camelot Primary School, the school was renamed as Bird in Bush School in September following a merger with another local primary.
In the first project, Hush supplied and installed absorber panels in the school’s dining hall, which was excessively noisy during peak times. And, later in the year, the team was back on site installing Hush Absorber 50 panels in a classroom to help create the right acoustic conditions for an SEN student.
What acoustic issues will define 2024?
Acoustic design will continue to be an important consideration in growth construction markets, such as student accommodation and the hotel industry. But as awareness grows of how poor acoustics can impact on people’s lives, the Hush team expects more forward-thinking clients, architects and contractors to seek performance standards beyond compliance levels.
In addition, the changes taking place in the construction industry resulting from the new building safety regime will also mean greater scrutiny of design and specification decisions, particularly for buildings over 18 storeys high.
For Hush Acoustics as a business, the next 12 months are expected to be just as varied and interesting as the last year! Plans are in place for further expansion of the business and the
continued development of technical resources, including product information, and the team is already consulting on acoustic designs for clients across the UK.