Printer Friendly

Highest quality sound created by design.

Byline: By Raj Patel

Raj Patel, of Arup Acoustics, explains the incredible detail that went into the acoustics.

The brief for The Sage Gateshead was "acoustical excellence" in all public spaces. Beneath this clarity lay a number of complicated challenges.

Hall One is a room to rival the finest classical music spaces in the world, namely the 1,700-seat Grossermusikerinesaal (Vienna) and the 2,000 seat Concertgebouw (Amsterdam). Completed in 1870 and 1888 respectively, these halls are small, with very tightly packed seats that would be unacceptable in a new concert hall. But their dimensions are fundamental to the great acoustics.

We had to work very hard to design a modern hall with these attributes, requiring the most rigorous testing and technologically advanced computer models to design.

The main variation from our two benchmarks, to achieve the seat count, is we have two balconies instead of one. Stacking people high into the room could be detrimental to the acoustics, but we have managed to preserve high side walls between balconies (essential for good side reflections), a hard high top part of the room to create rich reverberance. Every surface in the room has a purpose. Undulating wall curves scatter low frequency sound. The timber battens and grooves vary in size to scatter high frequency sounds (all the dimensions relate to different wavelengths of sound). The timber is very thick or solid bonded to concrete to preserve the rich bass sounds. Six moving ceiling panels allow us to adjust the room acoustic for any unamplified instrument or group ( allowing a great deal of flexibility. Air is supplied slowly and very quietly individually under each seat.

Moving curtains cover the walls to make the room very "dry" for amplified sound events. The sound system is also very advanced, known as a "line array". Each loudspeaker has a digital processor, controlling the interaction between the loudspeakers creating a beam that is steered exactly where we want the sound to go.

The sound in the room is very immediate and close unlike any traditional sound system. All of this is achieved within a beautiful architectural form, closely meeting the dimensions of our benchmarks.

Hall 2 is a more intimate space, for everything from chamber music to jazz or rock. The fundamentals for acoustics are the same ( exposed side walls, narrow balconies, exposed upper volume. The challenge here was the almost circular form (preferred for the intimacy), where the walls needed to be curved, or incorporated timber rods to scatter sound and avoid focusing. A system of vertically dropping banners covers six of the 10 wall surfaces allowing acoustic control for the amplified music events.

Northern Rock Foundation Hall is where Northern Sinfonia conducts most rehearsals.

The challenge was to create an acoustic to closely match that of Hall One (so that changing between the two has little impact on the musicians) but in a much smaller area.

The Music Education Centre provided a unique opportunity to create world class music education spaces.

Last, but by no means least, every point in the building is connected to every other through a complex audio and video infrastructure.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 4, 2005
Previous Article:The Sage and the public.
Next Article:Wonderful site was exploited to the full.

Related Articles
Bies addresses challenges in retirement savings.
Fed Governor discusses Basel II accords.
Football: predator - The key to turning off a lovely lady.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters