The prehistoric monument Stonehenge is one of England's most famous tourist attractions. Around a million visitors flock to the mysterious stone circle every year. The new, award-winning visitor centre provides an insight into its history and research. It was designed by Angela Dapper, architect and senior associate at Denton Corker Marshall in London. In this interview, she describes the challenges she faced when planning the room acoustics.
Stonehenge Visitor Centre, Amesbury, Great Britain
Photo: Peter Cook
- Ms Dapper, you've largely opted for materials such as concrete and glass for the Stonehenge Visitor Centre. Wasn't this rather a challenge from an acoustic point of view?
A. Dapper: Absolutely – there is a high noise level in the visitor centre every single day. The finish also has a lot to withstand from the sheer volume of visitors. This is exactly why we decided to combine different materials for the different areas within the centre. The café and souvenir shop, for example, have hard surfaces such as polished concrete floors and glazing, so we used acoustic ceilings. In contrast, we lined the chestnut-wood wall cladding with acoustic felt.
- How did you decide on this mixture of different materials? What type of acoustic ambience were you hoping to create?
A. Dapper: The visitor centre needs to cater for both busy and quiet days. We planned the acoustic materials in such a way as to be suitable for both scenarios. For this to happen, the acoustic solution has to be thought of as being an integral component of the building substance. We ultimately decided on the StoSilent Distance A2 system (formerly known as StoSilent A-Tec panel).
- And what made you opt for this particular solution?
A. Dapper: Well, the monolithic, seamless design allows the system to absorb an incredible amount of sound. This means that the increased noise levels created by the open spaces and hard surfaces can be offset by the special acoustic ceiling and acoustic felt behind the wall covering. The exhibition areas, on the other hand, are less open and have many more partitions, which are attached to the special acoustic ceiling. This helps reduce noise transfer.
- At which point of the construction process did you start planning the acoustic solution?
A. Dapper: For this particular project, we included the acoustic ceiling in planning very early on. That way we could be sure that the ceiling would be able to balance out the sound reflected by the hard and robust materials used for the walls and floors.
- How did you approach the acoustics planning process?
A. Dapper: First of all, an acoustic consultant determined the appropriate sound levels and separation between the individual areas. We based our acoustic designs on this information and worked together with Sto and manufacturers of other acoustic materials to develop the ideal solutions.
- And how did you handle the actual design?
A. Dapper: : It was particularly important to us to find products which worked in harmony with the simple, subtle range of materials in use throughout the entire building. The StoSilent Decor M coating (formerly known as StoSilent Superfine) allowed us to achieve a light, textured surface in natural white, which perfectly complements the building's unobtrusive aesthetic appeal.
You can learn more about StoSilent in our brochure and in the reference book. Or you can schedule a meeting with us.