Solstice Park is a brand new £250 million mixed use business park situated just off the A303 in Amesbury, Wiltshire.
Property agents Myddleton and Major (along with Alder King) were instructed to market the whole 160 acre (65 hectare) site. A head hunting company, Stephenson Research Associates, were the first tenants to move into the second floor in The Crescent (the office section of the park) at the beginning of 2008, but it soon became apparent that the acoustics were less than satisfactory and were affecting the business’s daily operation. As a head hunting business, a lot of time is spent on the phone discussing confidential matters. Due to the open plan nature of the office space and poor acoustics, people were having to raise their voices and it became difficult to maintain the levels of privacy clients expect when discussing their business. Staff concentration levels were also being affected.
Myddleton and Major contacted the acoustic consultancy team at BRC Ltd and asked them to come in and assess the problem. BRC recommended reducing the high reverberation time which was being caused by the structural elements of the property – three of the four walls are full height double glazed units and the roof is a curved pre-stressed concrete mass which heats and cools the office by transference. This means that the ceiling absorbs all the hot air during the day and it is then released overnight. Despite being an effective method of heating and cooling the office, it meant that sound travelled around the space, creating a lot of reverberation and a traditional suspended ceiling would not be practical. In turn, BRC contacted Ecophon which carried out acoustic calculations and recommended bringing them down from 1.68 seconds to a more acceptable 0.70 seconds.
BRC recommended using Ecophon’s Master Solo ceiling rafts to solve the problem as there was not enough surface area to install wall panels and they would not affect the thermal mass heating and cooling roof system. In total, 26 panels were installed to great effect. The panels were the ideal solution as they were very much in keeping with the high end architectural finish of the building and could also follow the curve of the roof to create an aesthetically pleasing finish.
The installation process was very quick and was completed over two consecutive weekends with minimal disruption to the business.
Phil Brown from BRC Ltd said: ‘A typical suspended ceiling would not have worked in this instance as the roof is also a thermal mass which heats and cools the building so if it’s covered, this function is restricted. We therefore recommended the installation of Ecophon’s Master Solo rafts which would follow the curve of the roof and create an aesthetically pleasing finish in keeping with the building’s high end specification.’
Sharon Baker. key account manager for Ecophon said: ‘In all, 26 Master Solo panels were installed throughout the office and the reduction in reverberation time has ultimately improved working conditions in the office suite. Installation was also an important factor as not only does the hanging nature of the rafts mean that the heating and cooling element of the roof is maintained, but also that disruption to business was minimal as it was carried out over two consecutive weekends.’
Simon Stephenson, director at Stephenson Research Associates, who let the office space said: ‘As a head hunting company, it’s important that we are able to hear telephone conversations clearly and our concentration is maintained. When we first moved into the suite, it was difficult to hear when talking on the phone and in an open plan office with confidential conversations taking place on a daily basis, it was difficult to maintain a level of privacy that our clients would expect.
‘We’re delighted with the results as the acoustics are now greatly improved and we are able to hear clearly when talking on the phone without being distracted.’