Chelmund’s Village Cross Centre

Chelmund’s Village Cross Centre is part of North Solihull Council’s investment in the future as they seek to regenerate and boost the whole area with a series of innovative and exciting projects aimed at bringing in new business, and extending not only opportunities for retail developments but also schools, medical centres and council offices. It is a purpose built complex specified to be of ‘the highest design quality and environmental performance’ with the requirement that it was a contemporary design solution which reflected ‘a good understanding of the site’s context.’

The brief

The office floor area where the acoustic hubs were to be situated was intended for use by the Council’s children’s services units, where privacy and confidentiality are an obvious concern. Another, equally important part of the brief from the client was that this office space should become a place of sanctuary for the employees, whose everyday working lives, given the nature of their work, would be particularly stressful and demanding. The team worked closely with the client to understand the type of work involved and the particular stresses they would face.

The brief was to provide 5 Hushhubs – all 3m x 3m in size. 3 hubs are to be co-joined, with 2 separate individual hubs, with the aim of creating separate areas within a large multi-functional space which provide privacy and confidentiality. The acoustic hubs were required to fit with the aesthetic features of a newly designed purpose built Village complex providing a ‘contemporary design solution’ and it was imperative that the hubs needed to create a calming and de-stressing atmosphere.

One of the reasons why this project was so interesting was that it demanded that 3 of the Hushhubs should be co-joined. It was important to make sure that the acoustic properties of the 3 joined hubs were still as high as for a single hub. This issue was successfully overcome. On a single wall, we used 18mm of plywood with 50mm of acoustics for sound absorption. A good acoustic wall needs to block and absorb sound and a stand-alone hub achieves this through its 4 layer system of: fabric - air gap - 50mm acoustic panels - birch plywood blocker.

What we did

With a party wall using the same frame, the 4 layer steps up to 7 layers: fabric - air gap - 25mm acoustic panels - plywood blocker - 18mm/6mm acoustics - air gap - fabric. This maintains an even balance between blocking and absorbency which is needed to achieve a good acoustic environment. Additionally, having a shared wall means that the middle hub has 3 walls of absorbent material instead of 2, therefore creating the least reverberation. In an uncontrolled test, it performed extremely well.

The client also requested French Oak frames which gave the Hushhubs give a solid feel and fit nicely with the biophilic approach of the overall design. The padded fabric lined panels provide acoustic absorption as well as giving a luxurious feel of comfort and everything was finished to high specifications, including Louis Poulsen light fittings, 12.8mm of Stadip silence glass, and plug and play electrics in the sound dampening acoustic office pods.

The results

Joining acoustic hubs provided large quiet working and office areas for the Chelmund Cross Village Project, Solihull. The client was delighted with the look and feel of the hubs. Working in one acoustic hub in an afternoon following a couple of stressful days was described as ‘creating a sense of calm and focus’. Visitors to the office suite were also very complimentary with the look and feel of the hubs, describing the whole appearance as ‘very organic and soothing’.

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