Architects can now assess basic sound insulation requirements for educational or healthcare buildings at the touch of a button thanks to an innovative new online calculator.

Following consultations with practitioners across the North West, Manchester-based Azymuth Acoustics has created the free calculator as a guide to architects at the earliest design stage of education or healthcare projects.

The calculator uses data and methods contained in Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) and HTM (Health Technical Memorandum) 08-01, which set standards for educational and healthcare buildings respectively.

“Appropriate acoustics in these environments are a key consideration in the design process, but up until now architects haven’t been able to easily assess the basic requirements for partition walls or floors,” said Azymuth Acoustics consultant Stratton Barrett.

“With the calculator they simply select the proposed use of the rooms in question and input three or four pieces of information detailing variables such as partition size and floor area.”

The calculator takes 30 seconds to complete but could save architects considerable time and effort further down the line, as Stratton explains:

“Using this calculator, from the outset architects can get a handle on how substantial the building fabric needs to be in order to achieve good sound insulation between rooms.

“If, for example, partitions end up needing to be much thicker than has been laid out then this can be very disruptive to the overall vision, as floor space is always at a premium.

“Our experience is that acousticians are seldom brought onboard a scheme until the design is well underway, if not complete. Acoustics should be thought about from the earliest stages in a project, especially in the case of educational buildings where research shows that pupils’ attainment is enhanced by favourable acoustic conditions.”

The calculator generates a weighted sound reduction index (Rw) value – a numerical measure of the degree of acoustic separation, or noise reduction. This can then be used when researching construction data to specify wall and floor systems.

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