It is critically important when designing new school facilities to take proper steps to address acoustics and ensuring a future proof space that promotes better interactions and engagement.
A good first step is baseline noise survey, to feed into the layout and design of new classrooms.
New primary and post-primary classrooms must be designed to achieve the performance requirements set out in the Department of Education’s TGD-021-5: Acoustic Performance in New Primary & Post Primary School Buildings.
The parameter we are interested in at this early design stage is the Internal Ambient Noise Level (IANL), for which we must first quantify the level and character of noise that will impact on the future buildings.
We can then determine what mitigation measures need to be considered in the design of the building envelope to ensure that enough noise is kept out of the classroom during learning so that the IANL criteria can be achieved.
In a recent assignment, noise measurements were carried out at the proposed locations of new classrooms. Measurements were taken at a lower height and an upper height to simulate the free-field levels at ground and first-floor level in a future two-storey building.
It was found that traffic noise had a strong influence on the prevailing noise environment at the school.
Once these issues have been identified, practical recommendations were then given to the project architect to ensure that the future design takes full advantage of relatively quieter areas on the school compound, while also allowing for openable windows and vents.
This is a crucial first step in making sure a new school not only meets the criteria for acoustics but exceeds these standards to make an exemplary educational space.
Maxwell, L.E., & Evans, G. (1999). The effects on pre-school children’s pre-reading skills. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 20, 91 – 97.