Following Unity Theatre’s receipt of a Catalyst Evolve grant from the Arts Council England, dBx Acoustics worked alongside K2 Architects, Through and Around, and Mercury Consulting Engineers, to deliver an exciting refurbishment of the historic building.
Sited within a former Synagogue on Hope Street, Unity has two vertically stacked auditoria. The acoustic challenges this presented meant simultaneous use of the two spaces was impossible. Before the refurbishment, both performance noise and music were easily heard between the auditoria, and any movement in the upper auditorium was heard as thumps and thuds in the main space downstairs.
dBx Acoustics worked with the design team to develop solutions to significantly improve the level of sound insulation between the auditoria, while respecting the building’s architectural heritage and structure, and the constraints posed by the need to retain lighting grids and ceiling mounted services.
Changes to the ceiling within Unity One gave a great opportunity to take a space with what was considered a reasonable acoustic for its use and optimise the placement of acoustic finishes throughout to turn reasonable into great. We used an acoustic modelling package to ensure we developed the best possible solution for room acoustics within the theatre, matching the pre-development reverberation time and relocating acoustic panels to cut down on unwanted reflections.
An overall 19 dB improvement in impact sound transmission was achieved, as well as an 11 dB improvement in airborne sound insulation (effectively subjectively halving the level of sound transfer).
While the works to the auditoria were perhaps the most exciting from an acoustic point of view, there were also changes to the front of house areas, including new bar and circulation areas as well as office accommodation for the Theatre team. dBx Acoustics advised on room acoustic design, building services noise control, and acoustic specification of new partitions for these areas. The project completed in 2017.