Portakabin partners with global leader in acoustic engineering

Posted on 28 Apr 2024 by The Manufacturer

Modular building market leader Portakabin has partnered with Saint-Gobain Ecophon to offer optimal acoustics in its buildings.

Ecophon, a global leader in acoustic systems and part of the Saint-Gobain Group, has enjoyed a working relationship with Portakabin for five years, both in the United Kingdom, Ireland and on continental Europe. Both companies share similar sustainability goals, have innovative products and are quick to offer a response to customers, when and where it is needed most.

Saint-Gobain Ecophon aims to optimise indoor teaching environments so that speech and sound is easy to hear and understand.

Exclusively for the education market, Saint-Gobain Ecophon has been working with Portakabin on a wide range of acoustic prototypes. By introducing new and improved classroom and learning environments and acoustically testing in these spaces to ensure they comply with the necessary regulations, Saint-Gobain Ecophon and Portakabin can deliver optimal learning environments for students, teachers and staff.

Shane Cryer, Concept Developer – Education, Saint-Gobain Ecophon comments: “Over 70% of all teaching, despite the improvements in tech, is still done vocally from teacher to pupil. Because of this, optimum acoustic performance in learning environments has never been so important.

“When Portakabin adds acoustic panels in its classrooms, students can focus, even memorise better, meaning the teacher doesn’t have to raise their voice. They can use a conversational tone which has shown to be especially important in secondary schools, where teenage pupils respond better to a conversational tone rather than a raised voice.”

With Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) Acoustic Design of Schools standard a statutory part of Building Regulations E4, all buildings by Portakabin have the potential to meet these exacting requirements, along with the latest SEN standards in the Department for Education Schools Specific Brief.

Shane continues: “And it’s not just students who will benefit, teachers will enjoy a healthier working environment too. Important research carried out in Germany demonstrated that without acoustic treatment the ambient noise level increases, teachers heart rate and blood pressure also then increased, well above the current levels recommended by the NHS. Teaching in spaces that are acoustically treated as well as these Portakabin classrooms can reduce heart rate, stress levels, vocal strain and the amount of time teachers take off work”.

The acoustic products were innovated in partnership with Portakabin and work incredibly well with a plastic-coated steel ceiling. The team developed a magnetic system for fixing lightweight acoustic rafts to the ceilings and walls, which is incredibly quick and easy to install. It was developed only with Portakabin in mind and the system has exceeded all expectations in the way that it performs acoustically.

Shaun Bewlay, Building Services Lead for Portakabin comments: “Magnets are positioned in each of the corners and for a 30m2 room this facilitates a quick and clean install for the necessary absorption to meet BB93. These magnets can be easily moved, taken down and reused in other spaces. They are very robust, easy to clean and resistant to humidity changes. The interior of the panels is made from recycled beer, wine and whiskey bottles; coloured glass that is not affected by changes in temperature or humidity so it lends itself perfectly to a Portakabin classroom. One wine bottle is going to make just over one of these panels – it’s a great use of coloured glass, which can be less desirable or unsuitable for other applications.”

Anne Carver, Divisional Managing Director for Portakabin comments: “Portakabin has done all the hard work for our customers. We know the quantity and the positioning of acoustic absorption to hit either secondary, primary or SEN standard in schools across the United Kingdom.

“This is so important in SEN (Special Educational Needs) or AP (Alternative Provision) schools. It’s amazing to think that when we can get the acoustics to an optimal state for our customers, we can even impact the behaviour of the pupils being taught in our buildings. That can be very important and have such a knock-on benefit to teachers.

“With Ecophon, we have a customised solution. We know exactly the right amount to meet the right standard in the right environment for the right effect.”

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