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Southbank Centre Refurbishment

A £25 million refurbishment programme of London’s Southbank Centre is nearing completion.  This complex of buildings, completed in 1968 including the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery evolved from 1951’s Festival of Britain and were designed by Robert Matthew and Leslie Martin for the London County Council.

Architects Allies and Morison with Max Fordham LLP and the main contractor BAM have now brought the building up to the standards expected of Europe’s premier arts venue in the 21st century.  Heraklith woodwool panels, supplied by in the UK by Marmox UK have been used extensively to provide a natural organic surface texture to the walls and ceilings within the complex.  The panels were chosen not only because of their aesthetics, they were chosen because they are fire resistant and provide both thermal insulation and acoustic absorption. 

Although in the main auditorium, a small degree of sound reverberation has been deliberately built into the design as that offers a richer texture and warmth to live music, in rehearsal rooms it is vital that each musician of an orchestra can hear his or her instruments with crystal clarity.  The rehearsal rooms have therefore been clad with the Heraklith acoustic panels which not only provide a richer texture and warmth to the eye but soak up reflected sound so that all the musicians hear is what they are playing.

Heraklith’s acoustic panels have been supplied by Marmox UK to theatres and to any buildings where white noise; that muffled cacophony of sound associated with crowds is likely.  They are supplied either as ceiling panels which sit within a frame or are fixed directly to the concrete.  A popular use of the panels is in schools and universities where it is important that the students can hear clearly what the teachers and lecturers are saying.  Heraklith’s panels conform to the guidance in document BB93 which lists the maximum reverberation times for each type of school room.  Another product in Heraklith’s range which Marmox UK supply is Tektalan.  This is a fireproof panel comprising a woodwool board and a layer of rock mineral wool which offers even better acoustic absorption in addition to acoustic and thermal insulation.

MB/December 2016