Children spend a lot of time in classrooms and it’s estimated that the majority of this time is spent trying to comprehend their teachers’ and classmates’ speech. Environments where it is difficult to hear can lead to students becoming disconnected and struggling to focus. This in turn can impact their cognitive development, reduce learning out comes and cause behavioural issues. To this end, the acoustic environment is now regarded internationally as one of the prime considerations in the design of new classroom facilities.
Bildspec Operable Walls have an important part to play in providing an improved acoustic environment. They are often used to assist the creation of innovative, high-quality learning environments for students. Innovative learning environments offer flexibility and adaptability where teachers/lecturers can provide opportunities for student engagement. The learning spaces:
• are adaptable to accommodate small or large groups;
• include learning centres with flexible spaces that allow students to use technology in a variety of settings;
• provide opportunities to enhance skills in collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.
Bildspec Operable Walls have the ability to divide class room learning spaces at will. These walls can also contain large format windows allowing maximum light transfer, creating an open, airy feeling in class rooms, which in turn provides an enhanced learning experience.
In the educational arena, noise (unwanted sound) in class rooms is detrimental to the learning outcome due to reduced speech intelligibility, and it comes most often from four main sources:
• the intrusion of external noise;
• noise generated by building services (such as HVAC systems);
• noise transferred between individual spaces including impact noise;
• control of reverberation times to enhance speech intelligibility.
The high acoustic ratings achieved by Bildspec Operable Walls facilitate flexible learning spaces where children can learn in a quiet yet robust physical learning environment. This is achieved by greatly reducing external noise from passing into each class room. This reduction of sound is measured as Rw (Weighted Sound Reduction Index). Different combinations of top / bottom seals and board constructions are crucial in the wall’s ability to overcome sound transmission issues.
Furthermore, various face finishes used on the surface of each operable wall can improve the NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient)/reverberation acoustic quality of the space through sound absorption. Careful consideration should be given to choosing face finishes which assist in absorbing the frequencies of speech, referred to as articulate speech frequencies.
Larger format operable walls are often installed in activity areas of the school, including multi-purpose halls, music rooms, drama amphitheatres etc. Such walls enable easy and flexible separation of larger spaces into smaller social, activity-based and performance areas.
As acoustic design can be complex, Bildspec recommend using an acoustic engineer or consultant as part of the design process. Such consultants usually stipulate the Rw (acoustic rating) of the operable wall, and can suggest appropriate acoustic material coverings to achieve a desired NRC. This will assist in achieving a well-balanced room with the correct speech intelligibility and background noise levels.