Did you know that although fabric can tick all of the boxes aesthetically, it might not have properties that are conducive to being used for acoustic paneling?

Nowadays, the focus of acoustic paneling is becoming more balanced between ‘function’ and ‘aesthetics’. Solving acoustic problems can be done in an aesthetically pleasing way and sometimes the acoustic treatments can become the design focus of room interiors.

When choosing fabrics it is best to choose ones that have an open weave and are breathable. Be careful not to choose a fabric that has too much of an open weave, as you do not want to be able to see the core material through the fabric. Get this wrong and the absorption performance can be dramatically reduced.

Fabrics have weaves that create pores with different sizes and shapes, and with their different thermal and viscous effects, they influence the sound waves passing through them changing the absorption values. Fabrics are available ‘ backed ‘ or ‘ unbacked ‘. Backed fabrics are lined one side with either paper or acrylic, normally to assist with direct wall applications. Fabric used with acoustic paneling systems is usually ‘un- backed’ as backed fabrics do not stretch well.

There are three types of absorbers: porous absorbers, membrane absorbers, and resonance absorbers. Porous absorbers, fuzzy fibrous materials like carpet, decrease sound pollution in the environment by allowing sound transmission to occur in such a way that the fibers rub together and cause the acoustic energy to be converted to heat. As the sound energy penetrates the material the sound-absorbing effect is obtained and as the required thickness is large with porous textile absorbers, obtaining adequate absorption at low frequencies is more difficult and requires great thickness.

Membrane absorbers take many shapes and comprise a membrane that resists movement from the sound energy causing a reduction in energy and resultant absorption. There are box versions where air is trapped behind the membrane as a spring creating some tuning and often extending the low frequency absorption.

Resonance absorbers, referred to as Helmholtz absorbers are resonant boxes that have an aperture to admit the sound – they work by taking the sound, resonating and re- emitting the sound such that much will be in an opposed phase and cancel the next approaching sound wave.

Designs can use a mix of types and performances to deal with the needs of a room. Acousticians need the data about frequency-dependent sound absorption and flow resistance in order to work out the acoustics for the room, which types will be best and arrange them so they work with the natural behaviour of the room, and then cover all this up with fabrics.

Case Study: University of West London – Basement Studios

Project: Creation of several studios

Location: London, United Kingdom

Area: 682,0 sqm

Project Year: 2016

Contractor: E G Silverthern

MUSIC RECORDING STUDIOS

UNIVERSITY OF WEST LONDON

Recording studio facilities were created for the London School of Music at the University of West London, comprising of a Live Room with connected Control Room, Drum and Piano Booth, and a Post-Production Studio.

VA worked closely with the school academics, technicians and principle contractor Willmott Dixon to create studios that reflect the latest ideas and industry practices so students gain real world, applicable experience.

Working alongside Academia, the studio equipment is based around the Audient desk selected for its intuitive learning, enabling students to quickly learn audio signal path and processing towards recording and mixing of music and sound.

The studios formed part of a much larger project being delivered by Willmott Dixon. Due to incredibly tight time restraints, a 10 week construction programme was compressed to 6 weeks to meet Willmotts objectives.

The studios were handed over to Willmott Dixon ahead of the deadline, complete, tested and snag free. The studios proved to be a huge success.

“The Veale Associates team took a proactive and practical approach to our projects, which was of great value within a fast-paced and evolving project programme. The delivery of the VA team across their projects has been highly regarded for excellent quality, relevance and applicability. Their broad skill-base and sector awareness has enabled us to provide an accurate reflection of industry standards within our teaching facilities, further promoting the quality of vocational training that is essential to our USP.”

Claire Pickersgill MRICS MSc BSc (Hons), Head of Capital Projects, University of West London

Case Study: University of West London – Blast Radio Broadcast Studios

Project: Creation of several studios

Location: London, United Kingdom

Area: 682,0 sqm

Project Year: 2016

Contractor: E G Silverthern

BLAST RADIO BROADCAST STUDIOS

UNIVERSITY OF WEST LONDON

Broadcast facilities were created for the Ealing School of Music, Art, Design and Media at the University of West London.

VA worked closely with the school academics, technicians and principle contractor Willmott Dixon to create studios that reflect the latest ideas and industry practices so students gain real world, applicable experience.

Two radio broadcast studios were created, one larger teaching studio with cameras over the desk and screens as aids to support teaching, and another smaller studio for students to use independently.

The two studios are identically equipped and centred around Lawo Crystal mixer with Vistools and uses the Tieline Commander for external reporting and contributions. Protools with RedNet to ingest music from other parts of the campus and record live studio productions, Myriad for play-out, Burli for news capture and script editing, phonebox for phone-in contributions, DJ kit comprising Pioneer CDs and record decks and mixer, Neuman microphones, PMC twotwo5 monitor speakers, Adder integrated KVM switches to seamlessly link the kit in the CAR/Racks Room to the studio desk and wall display screens.

“The Veale Associates team took a proactive and practical approach to our projects, which was of great value within a fast-paced and evolving project programme. The delivery of the VA team across their projects has been highly regarded for excellent quality, relevance and applicability. Their broad skill-base and sector awareness has enabled us to provide an accurate reflection of industry standards within our teaching facilities, further promoting the quality of vocational training that is essential to our USP.”

Claire Pickersgill MRICS MSc BSc (Hons), Head of Capital Projects, University of West London

Case Study: University of Winchester – New Music & Sound Recording Studios

UNIVERSITY OF WINCHESTER

Project              : Creation of several studios

Location           : Winchester

Area                 : 173m

Project Year      : 2017

Contractor         : EG Silverthorn

NEW MUSIC & SOUND RECORDING STUDIOS

UNIVERSITY OF WINCHESTER

VA transformed a dance studio into a 5 room music studio complex for the University of Winchester to support their expansion of audio recording and mixing for music production and film post-production.

The University commissioned Veale Associates to review their proposals and examine course structures and content to ensure the facilities satisfied student access and work demands. VA then designed the studio complex to comprise of two 5.1 control rooms, two live rooms and a Foley room. Extensive re-modeling was also undertaken to the access corridors to provide a new Studio Controller’s office and feature timber sound wave.

The studios were finished to a very high standard and incorporated the new University branding. The high ceiling in Live 1 provided an opportunity to design a custom acoustic diffuser manufactured by Wood-Skin and the studio equipment centered around 2 Audient ASP8024HR consoles with monitoring by Amphion and Unity Audio. The studios were fitted out with Protools and Logic and featured a Focusrite RedNet system to provide networkable audio across the entire complex.

“Our ambition for the University of Winchester is to become a leading provider of sound and music education. Veale Associates understood the Universities ambitions from day one, whilst appreciating the constraints on cost and time. They brought a wealth of industry and higher education experience to the project. The concept from day one was to deliver not only first class education facilities from the visual perspective but studios fully equipped to deliver the key learning objectives whilst achieving the acoustic and technical criteria necessary for studios of this type. We couldn’t have done this without the professional and creative input from Veale’s leading people Eddie, Eloise and Richard. The outcome is visually stunning, well equipped functional facilities that fully meet the project brief delivered to quality, time and cost.”

Professor Joy Carter, Vice Chancellor, University of Winchester

VA Design’s new reception and Physiotherapy Teaching Centre for UoW

The installation includes a new reception area, teaching rooms and an open-plan physiotherapy practice area. VA Design recently completed the refurbishment of the High Street Physiotherapy Centre for University of Winchester. The refurbishment is part of a series of improvements the University of Winchester has completed this summer. VA are proud to have a continued relationship with UoW, delivering world-class facilities for this forward looking University.

Lockdown is a time for collaboration

We may still be in the midst of the conronovirus lockdown but for many it is still business as usual. Many have seen 70% of workload disappear and those considering change to studio or premises have seen construction plans put on hold. One thing is for sure, when we emerge there is going to be a huge demand to build very quickly.  During these uncertain waters it’s important to look ahead and plan so we can ensure that we emerge ready to hit the ground running.

Those in the midst of relocating have found themselves unable to make much progress and need to be motivated.  If the move is motivated by the landlord, who will have problems of their own, some respite may be available from the landlord and discussion is very worthwhile.  Should you be looking or contemplating new premises this is an excellent opportunity to research locations and what property is on the market, and open initial enquiries. 

This enforced down time is a huge opportunity to plan what you want for your business, if you are planning a refurbishment there is time to think about functionality, work flow and how your studios could look and sound.  We presently have the time to really talk with music editors, mix techs, sound supervisors, engineers & producers about their work.  Learning what they like and don’t like about premises, facilities and studios that helps refine ideas and make the project even better.  Staff might have a bit more time to think about their workloads and needs to aid the design process to advance and make the business more viable and leaders of their sector.  We have the time to truly analyse how your facilities work, staff move through the space, the equipment they need and how to embrace the new world.

One of the most important steps when ensuring a design meets expectation is to spend as much time as possible on the detail.  We now have the time to truly answer the question ‘what am I trying to accomplish’.  Many mistakes happen later on in the creation that can be traced back to not taking the time at the outset to consider the detail or those what-ifs? But now we have the time.  We have an exceptional opportunity to discuss and develop concepts and designs so we are ready to hit the ground running once business restraints are lifted. 

www.va-studiodesign.com

The Gold Standard

The importance of passion cannot be underestimated. Eloise Veale, the Creative Director of Veale Associates, is testament to that.

We met Eloise in London, in the heart of Kensington and Chelsea. This borough is one of contrasts, placing mansions and billionaires alongside high-rise social housing, including Grenfell Tower, and extreme poverty. 

We are speaking to Eloise the morning after the launch of a remarkable project aimed at reducing the number of young people killed by knife crime in the local area. “Every minute someone spends in this space is a minute they aren’t on the street, potentially being part of something that will ruin their lives,” she says.

Amplify is a special place. It is designed to be a “powerful tool of change”.

“A safe haven that removes barriers to entry and allows young people to develop their strengths and nurture their passions.” Veale Associates, in partnership with The Rugby Portabello Trust, have created a space that changes lives.

Alongside two state-of-the-art studios, including 8 desks for learning and a recording booth, there is a multi-functional area that primarily acts as a counselling space.

“This is my favourite project,” says Eloise. “The design challenges of creating a space that acts as an art space, recording space and a place where people can get help for their mental health through counselling is really rewarding.”

“Knowing what materials to use, working to a tight budget and making sure everything works in harmony meant a lot of back and forth with the client. We needed to know what was needed because it’s so important. We had to get it right.”

Eloise’s passion no doubt comes from her father, an industry legend. But we get the impression that Veale Associates works because the two creative leaders think differently.

“I like to give my dad headaches. I like to push the boundaries of what a studio can be, so when my designs meet his decades of experience – that’s where the magic happens. Every studio must be different, because humans are different.”  

“You Say Control Freak Like it’s a Bad Thing”

Control is an important part of the creative process. Over the last 15 years, businesses have increasingly outsourced functions to reduce costs. As with most trends, the pendulum now seems to be swinging in the opposite direction – especially in the creative arts.

Whenever an artist – be they a musician, an actor, or a director – leaves a project, it is often put down to “creative control” or “creative differences”. 

In our experience, creatives like to be in environments where they can completely control the outcome. And when it comes to audio engineers, this is especially true. For a recent project we completed with Frontier Games, makers of Planet Zoo and Elite:Dangerous, the brief was simple:

“Provide quality facilities for our audio team.”

The designers at Frontier had been “making do” with converted, untreated rooms. “What we were producing was pretty amazing given the circumstances,” they told us. “But this afforded us the opportunity to take our audio to the next level.”

The key to success, then, was control. To take their audio capability to the next level, the studios they were using had to be at the same level as the amazing talent they had developed since their creation over 25 years ago.

But much more than controlling your environment, or the audio produced, having exceptional facilities allows you to control the future of the company. 

“Good quality facilities are key to attracting the best talent in the industry,” Frontier Developments told us. “Happy staff make the best products. We believe our balance of lightly treated design rooms with plenty of window estate, together with fully treated mix rooms and the ability to quickly transfer builds between the two, provides the team with the best of both worlds.”

“Our recording studios also mean that we are no longer always dependent on external companies to record for us, which has afforded a lot more flexibility and the ability to respond rapidly to game requirements.”

Understanding the Process

Even though we build creative spaces, we know we need a thorough process to ensure our customers get what they need. From conception to completion, we develop, design and build in collaboration with our clients.

The first stage is always to develop the brief. We are consultants first, which means we don’t install standard equipment to a standard layout. We sit down with every customer to develop, design and build their perfect space. During this phase we also ensure that the design is as future-proof as possible, so the customer will be using the space for years and decades to come.

Once we understand the brief, we generate the concepts, including technical integration and 3D walkthroughs. With over 50 years of experience, we understand that the technicalities of health and safety and local authority approval are key to the success of the project. So we get the ball rolling as soon as possible, to ensure that all challenges are eliminated early in the design process.

We then bring all of the work together into detailed drawings, liaising with our contractors to ensure feasibility and suitability. Bringing in contractors and installers at this stage, whether they are sourced by the client or by us, helps ensure the solution works from the start.

Once everything is signed off, it’s time to get on with the installation. We project manage for our clients throughout, so what’s designed on the page is delivered on the project, with quality and performance that is second to none. 

We then sign off every project to ensure it meets the Veale Associates standard. Only when we are happy will we hand over to the client and provide the necessary training to ensure the space is used to its potential.

But even after the project is finished, we know things take a while to bed in. That’s why we provide a post-installation service for any fine-tuning, to help remove any barriers to creativity or performance.