Five Pancras Square is the headquarters of the London Borough of Camden. It is also a community building and alongside the office accommodation the building also houses two public swimming pools, a fitness centre, a library and the council’s customer access centre.
The building is one of the greenest in the UK. A condition of the planning policy was that the project achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating. However, with a score of 97.6 per cent the completed development exceeded this and it was the BREEAM Outstanding accreditation instead.
In 2015 the building was named winner of the Prime Minister’s Better Building Award.
Sandy Brown was commissioned to provide acoustic advice on the base building and the Category A and Category B fit-out of the new offices.
Principle acoustic requirements included:
- achieving an appropriate level of speech privacy between cellular spaces and in open plan office areas
- control of noise from building services
- ensuring reverberation in meeting rooms does not affect speech intelligibility or result in excessive noise build-up in other areas.
Special acoustic features
In terms of acoustic design, there are two principle elements affecting a building’s BREEAM rating. These are:
- the indoor environmental quality, i.e the acoustic performance within the building, and
- noise emissions from the building to the external environment.
For the first of these – the acoustic quality in the building – there are a number of factors that can affect the the performance in an open plan office. These offices include spacing and layout of workstations, the way in which people behave in the space and the location, level and character of noise that is generated by office equipment, such as phones or photocopiers.
Acoustic finishes, especially for the ceiling, are also a prime consideration as the are one of the main ways to attenuate unwanted sounds and levels of speech.
Assessment of airborne sound insulation, reverberation control and mechanical services noise was necessary to ensure work within the offices was not disrupted by activity in the on-site leisure centre. Sound absorbent ceiling was also used within the gym area to assist in reducing reverberation times within the space.