Comprehensive school - B
New approach great for the sound environment
A trial room was built first to test the results of the improvements, before moving on to the other rooms in the school.
Linåker School in Svalöv in Sweden was built in 1970 and renovated between 1999 and 2000. During these changes there was a particular focus on improving the sound environment, with a new approach to room acoustics being introduced. The interior in general received a total makeover.
Positive result from trial room
The results after lessons in the trial room over a period of a year were very positive. The air quality was better, the room was brighter with good lighting, a more even temperature and a background noise level within the requirements of building standards.
The acoustic ceiling tested was based on a new method of installing extra thick sound absorbers just where the ceiling met the walls in order to reduce sound reflection from the corners. The test proved to be a great success. Measurements in the trial room showed more or less the same short reverberation time of less than 0.5 seconds for all speech frequencies, even those in the low frequencies which are usually difficult to hear. For someone with impaired hearing these frequencies are extra important for the best possible speech intelligibility.
The modest extra cost of creating an improved sound environment will pay for itself several times over as there is no need to provide extra resources for hearing-impaired pupils.
Sound absorption has been improved in the classrooms and is now also suitable for people with impaired hearing.
Lower voice levels all over the school
After all these positive results, it was decided that all the school's classrooms would be built according to the new principles. Today almost all the areas have been renovated, including corridors, communal areas, the library, offices and study rooms. This has created consistent room acoustics so that pupils can keep their voices down to the same low level wherever they are in the school.
Communal areas, corridors and most other rooms have been fitted with an acoustic ceiling to achieve consistent room acoustics.
Facilitate for hearing impaired pupils
Nils Ingvar Ekholm, AB Svalövsbostäder in Skåne, Southern Sweden, says:
"Since the school was built thirty years ago, we have learnt about the working environment problems suffered by schools from that time. We started by rebuilding one of the rooms to achieve the best possible working environment - a new ventilation and heating system, better light in the form of uplighters and a reflective white ceiling, new, lighter flooring, light-coloured walls and a newly developed acoustic ceiling. We took down the old ceiling which was absorption class D and replaced it with a suspended acoustic ceiling in absorption class A. A further reduction in the reverberation time for the low frequencies was achieved by installing extra thick sound absorbers above the acoustic ceiling."
"In our case, we wanted to bring the reverberation time down to a level low enough for us to be able to teach hearing-impaired pupils here. Our requirements were therefore much more demanding than the authorities' standards. But I'm convinced that if things are good for people with a hearing impairment, then they are good for the whole school. We reduced background noise considerably using the acoustic ceiling and a quieter ventilation system."