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Victoria University’s quest for architecturally designed silence

Victoria University’s quest for architecturally designed silence

They say silence is golden but you’ll probably agree that more often than not, it’s pretty hard to find. Primary schools are definitely no exception, but thanks to a research grant awarded to Wellington’s Victoria University, the School of Architecture is about to embark on a research project to test architecturally designed solutions for noisy Kiwi classrooms.  

Charitable trust Oticon Foundation fronted up $13,000 for the research grant, and now the call is being put out for schools in the Wellington region with classrooms that have different acoustic features to take part in the research. 

School of Architecture lecturer Natasha Perkins said the school is currently prototyping acoustic ceiling forms and an acoustic pod to create a silent zone for students. The aim is to develop and test acoustic solutions to create classroom spaces that reduce the medical, social and language issues that affect the ability to learn. 

The research will involve testing the acoustic solutions in a range of classroom spaces including open plan classrooms, those with concrete walls, or concrete piles and with different floor coverings. 

Karen Pullar, secretary to the Oticon Foundation, said noise can make the classroom a difficult environment to learn in because students struggle to hear. She hopes the funding will help develop “cost effective acoustic solutions that can be available to schools across the country". 

Industry support for the programme includes material supplier Autex New Zealand and technical support from Marshall Day Acoustics.