Great acoustic qualities support great learning environments

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Investing in functional design for classrooms proves essential to enhancing a student’s learning experience and their overall engagement. There is a demand for classrooms to become more modern and fundamentally advanced to meet the latest educational needs. Modular Learning Spaces are becoming increasingly popular as they emphasise an open plan collaborative learning approach – designed by architects to deliver quality classrooms and meet the demand for modernisation.

With a strong focus on functional design, St Luke’s Catholic College in Marsden Park, NSW, contracted MBS Modular Buildings Systems and Atomic Interior Linings to create, manufacture and install Modular Learning Spaces throughout their new school to accommodate 180 students.

The major design requirement was to provide three high-performing learning spaces with optimal acoustic parameters. Classrooms are greatly affected by acoustic quality due to design, excessive background noise such as traffic and other factors within the building including air-conditioning, hallways and adjacent classrooms. It is important to take into consideration the effects acoustics can have on student’s listening capabilities and overall learning experience.

With this in mind, the design incorporated a ceiling structure using Gyprock’s Gyptone Perforated Plasterboard due to its superior sound absorption, ability to minimise echoes and noise reverberation, and visual aesthetics.

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A great additional feature of Gyprock Gyptone Perforated Plasterboard is Activ’Air, a patented technology that helps to improve indoor air quality by converting formaldehyde into non-harmful inert compounds that are permanently locked in the board and cannot be released back into the air. This can reduce the concentration of formaldehyde with an environment by up to 60 per cent when installed in ceilings, even when there is continuous airflow containing formaldehyde.

The design also included soft furnishings, plush carpet with underlay and floor to ceiling pinnable acoustic fabric walls that all help to combat background noise and reverberation, enhancing the overall acoustic performance of these learning environments

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“We know that good acoustics support great learning along with quality air and lighting, and these are the key elements that we want to address in today’s learning environments that weren’t addressed in traditional learning spaces,” explains Paul Meldrum, Head of Learning Innovations, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.

Acoustic testing for St Luke’s Catholic College demonstrated that the reverberation times for the learning spaces met the design criteria of 0.4 – 0.6 seconds, which suggests a low reverberation time – indicating that the rooms are of a high performance in controlling reverberation.

“The acoustic performance of the modular buildings are the best we have ever experienced to date, spanning across 80 schools in our education system. We will continue to use the same design concepts with other structures, ultimately creating comfortable environments for our students,” says Meldrum.

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