Creating a performance space that rocks
Does that sound good to you? At BuroHappold, we take acoustics seriously, employing talented specialists to design, assess and deliver the very best sound solutions for every project. In this series, we take an in-depth look at the value-driven methods our experts use to achieve transformative acoustics results, focusing on structural vibration isolation.
The Factory is a unique new cultural venue for Manchester. Developed on the former Granada Studios site, the main performance spaces sit over nearby Water Street and its retained historic rail arches.
The interconnected performance spaces comprise a large warehouse building that contains a full technical grid and an adjoining, more conventional theatre. The spaces can be subdivided or work in tandem to create a unique spatial and technical backdrop for artists to create and present work.
Building on the success of the Manchester International Festival, The Factory will commission, create and present performances, visual arts and popular culture to a combined audience of up to 7,000. A centre for all types of arts and culture, it will offer space for artists and thinkers to make, explore and experiment, and for communities and individuals to meet, exchange ideas and learn new skills.
Preventing noise breakout
Optimising the acoustic performance of the new venue was a complex imperative. The envelope of the building was required to prevent noise breakout (from events such as rock concerts and electronic music) in each performance space. Nearby residential flats as well as other performance spaces within The Factory needed to be acoustically isolated from each other.
The control of noise break out from the building is achieved via a structural vibration isolation solution; a double skin facade, with the external skin mounted on acoustic isolation bearings. The design of the supporting long span steel frame was optimised to limit movement between adjacent precast panels and thus reduce the risk of noise leakage.
The divide between the two main spaces is moveable so each space can be operated independently as required, making the venue truly flexible.
Bringing together facade and acoustics experts to deliver the right solution
This was complex due to the multi-panelised nature of the external facade. BuroHappold’s acoustic and facade design experts were brought on board mid-way through the design process, to detail a unique structural vibration isolation bracketry system which provides both lateral restraint (for facade wind load) and dead load (to support the self-weight of the facade) at each panel connection.
Ultimately, painstaking parametric modelling was undertaken to turn the concept into engineering reality, and allow a simplified design based on individually tailored elastomeric bearings (with a low natural frequency) to be adopted. This concluded what was a long-running design challenge for the project.