Saint-Gobain Ecophon develops and manufactures acoustic products and systems that contribute to a good working environment by enhancing people’s wellbeing and performance. Their promise, ‘A sound effect on people’ is the core backbone of everything they do and is also the name of their new podcast, which they use to educate people on how we can be affected by sound. In their podcast episode, “A Sound Education”, Ecophon explains that good acoustics in schools and higher education institutions are vital.
They help children and young people concentrate and learn and also protect the health of teachers and lecturers. Their podcast reported that over 70% of learning still takes place in the old- fashioned way, by a teacher talking to their students, making a suitable sound environment crucial. When students need to focus, it’s important that the teachers can maintain a conversational tone to prevent their attention from wandering. One location where this occurs more intensely is in a school’s sports hall. With the sounds of chatter, running and bouncing balls that we all associate with a Physical Education class, it’s almost impossible for clear communication between the teacher and their students, without proper acoustic systems in place. Additionally, the noise from the classes could easily penetrate rooms surrounding the hall, disrupting the education of students across the entire school. That’s why it is essential to consider acoustic ceilings and wall panels when building a new sports hall.
Thankfully, when Malone Integrated College in Belfast decided to build a new state-of-the-art sports hall for its students, they considered these issues and chose Ecophon to provide their high-quality acoustic solutions for their new facilities. The recent completion of the modern, state-of-the-art sports hall boasts an impressive internal area of 1,424m2. It consists of four changing rooms for students, two for teachers, a fitness suite and a PE classroom.
Although this wasn’t necessarily the largest project, the new sports hall is a hugely important addition to the college and one that both staff and students will utilise to its full advantage for years to come.
Ecophon reports the essential components of a sports hall with a good sound environment as:
• the sound level being as low as possible • the prevention of echoing • people being able to speak in their normal tone of voice and still be heard.
Their solution to create the perfect space is twofold: using an impact- resistant sound-absorbing ceiling with very good absorption qualities and then adding impact-resistant wall absorbers on two adjacent walls. By doing this, the sports hall will be able to function as needed with an excellent auditory environment.
Ecophon offers something they call Activity Based Acoustics Design, which helps clients chose the best solutions for their individual needs. They suggest considering three factors when designing the perfect space: the activity that the room will contain, the people who will be involved and their specific needs, and the physical features of the building, for example size and neighbouring spaces. This will allow each client to make an informed decision on which products suit their needs best, and Ecophon is there every step of the project to offer their guidance and suggestions. The specific product combination used by Ecophon for Malone College was their Super G Plus A and Akusto Wall/Super G; and Super G 35 mm and Akusto Wall/Super G. The fabric surface developed for their Super G range is specifically designed to withstand impacts in sport halls and other similar environments. The Akusto range is offered in an array of colours and different textured finishes, making it suitable for a range of applications. This allowed the Ecophon team to maintain the attractive, modern aesthetic of the sports hall, maximising the acoustic capabilities of the hall without compromising on its visual impact.
The Malone Integrated College project has been an enormous success, with staff, students and parents alike all marvelling at their new facilities. The combined effort from all project stakeholders, including Ecophon, has resulted in a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn in a safe, first- class environment, designed specifically to enable them to fulfil their learning potential.