This September, the internationally renowned Cork School of Music in Ireland opened its new 12,900m2 purpose-built facility, home to the world’s largest single order of Steinway baby grand pianos. As you would expect, the design of the sound environment in the new school was critical. Acoustic consultant Applied Acoustic Design was charged with optimising the sound quality in the 52 musictuition rooms, and solving the problem of excessive reverberation. Acoustic ceiling tiles were not a possibility as the building required plastered ceilings, so options were limited to sound-absorbent wall panels, carpets or making the rooms asymmetric to reduce echo. ‘Initially we tried to make our own wall panels by stretching fabric over wire mesh, but the quality just wasn’t there,’ says Ralph Bingham, director of architect Murray Ó Laoire, who had overall responsibility for the building’s design.
Bingham turned to Ecophon, which supplied the project with 830m2 of Texona wall panels, in three shades of grey, cut into shape on site and finished with aluminium and black trim. Detachable whiteboards on top of the soundabsorbing panels allow the practice rooms to become teaching
environments, and also enable the reverberation to be increased or decreased for particular instruments or performances.