Ecophon: The best acoustic ceiling for schools is now ‘kid-proof’
A brand new acoustic ceiling system specifically designed for schools has been launched by Ecophon. Master™ Rigid sets a new benchmark for performance and durability and has been designed with demanding classroom environments in mind.
Ecophon, part of leading international materials company Saint-Gobain, used its years of education experience to develop a ceiling system that provides the best possible acoustic environment for teachers and students. Master Rigid helps to increase the comfort and quality of learning while standing up to the rigours of everyday classroom life.
It uses a completely new reinforced Akutex FT surface which is a sandwich construction proven to be ten times stronger than Ecophon’s original Akutex FT. The Connect™ grid also ensures the tiles are securely installed yet also easily demountable.
Master Rigid is manufactured using Ecophon’s 3RD Technology. This combines at least 70% recycled glass wool with a plant-based binder rather than a traditional petroleum-based one, helping to reduced the environmental impact.
“Put simply, the best acoustic ceiling system for the classroom is now ‘kid-proof’,” says Shane Cryer, Concept Developer for Education at Ecophon. “The system will play a key role in promoting excellent speech communication between teacher and student without the need for teachers to strain their voices, leading to a reduction in physical and mental stress.”
Increased classroom acoustic comfort is achieved through lowered reverberation times reduced sound pressure levels and especially increased low frequency bass absorption. This is essential for the 33,000 hearing impaired students in mainstream education in the UK, but has also been proven beneficial to all students.
“Optimised acoustic classrooms also assist with learning, concentration and memory,” continues Shane. “Master Rigid’s excellent durability means it is ideally suited to the classroom environment where impact and tampering from below are very real possibilities in some UK schools. In turn, this also helps to reduce wear and tear, increasing the life-span of the ceiling, which helps reduce costs. In fact, it had not previously been possible to offer this level of impact resistance without compromising on aesthetics, but Master Rigid meets stringent acoustic standards while still giving a high end finish.”
In 2009, Ecophon was involved in groundbreaking research at Sweyne Park School, a mainstream secondary school attended by a number of deaf and hearing-impaired children, to test the effect of applying different acoustic standards to problem classrooms. Alan Knibb, Senior Engineer in Asset Management at Essex County Council, who part funded the study, is keen to stress the need for acoustic treatment in all schools.
He says: “What we discovered during the tests was that it wasn’t just about prioritising classroom acoustics for children with hearing requirements, but that there were many benefits for all children at the school, and teachers too. Having seen the difference for myself, I don’t doubt the hugely positive effect good classroom acoustics can have.”
Simon Smith, Learning Environment Leader at Sweyne Park School, adds: “Good acoustics can make a fundamental difference to the quality of teaching and learning. Being involved in the study really opened my eyes to the importance of acoustics in classrooms and the difference that acoustic treatment can make. Creating an optimized acoustic environment that helps teachers to share knowledge and pupils to learn is vital to ensure stress levels are reduced and behaviour improves.”