The acoustic performance of a major London landmark building was upgraded using the StoSilent Distance acoustic system. Hayward Gallery at London’s Southbank Centre underwent a complete refurbishment, and the StoSilent Distance system helped create a new and dramatically improved acoustic environment for this world-renowned art gallery.

The two-year refurbishment project for this impressive example of 1960s Brutalist architecture included a total redesign of the existing roof structure. The 66 pyramid-shaped skylights which originally featured on the building had become damaged over time, while internally, a series of impractical sound-absorbing baffles and a translucent suspended ceiling had been used below them.

The aim was to remove the suspended ceiling, reclaim the original height of the gallery spaces, and allow more natural light to enter. The pyramid roof lights were reconstructed using modern materials, and this meant that reliable acoustic treatment needed to be fitted into the coffer spaces below them in order to create the required acoustic environment.

A gallery such as the Hayward demands a calm and quiet environment where visitors can enjoy the exhibits. Parts of the interior spaces retain their original concrete surfaces, and there are other acoustically hard, reflective surfaces present, so improving speech clarity and lessening impact from foot traffic had to be achieved.

Unlike conventional acoustic treatments which use exposed grid and tile systems and offer limited design possibilities, the StoSilent Distance solution allows the creation of modern, clean, monolithic and seamless solutions, and can accommodate unusual design features such as the gallery ceiling and its pyramid-shaped skylights.

StoSilent Distance was installed in the deep acoustic coffers which sit below each of the pyramid skylights. This lightweight system is perfectly suited to the creation of balanced acoustic environments in the modern, minimal and contemporary interior design style featured in the redesigned gallery spaces. It can be used to achieve, monolithic, seamless aesthetics, inclined planes or curves, or sharp and consistent joints, and this allows it to offer virtually unlimited potential to architects and designers. It is also perfect for applications where a ceiling is being used as a negative plenum for air extraction and movement of air within the environment.

The system features Sto’s SC400 metal framework with StoSilent Distance 110 boards, and these combine to allow for the easy integration of lighting, grills and other M&E services. Manufactured from 96% recycled glass, the boards have a permeable, honeycomb-like structure which allows sound to pass through into the space above a void space.

Outstanding visuals and aesthetics were a key requirement for the Hayward Gallery project, and once again the StoSilent Distance system offered the perfect solution. Its lightweight rigid sheet construction means it is a benefit to structural engineers with concerns of increasing weight on existing steel structures, and also it will not delaminate or sag over time.  The StoSilent Distance system can easily be re-furbished and seamlessly repaired if damage occurs, throughout the lifetime of the building, without greatly negating its acoustic performance.

For this project the StoSilent Distance system was finished with StoSilent Décor M. This specially-formulated, spray-applied acoustic plaster has a slight granular texture which provides a high degree of light resolution, and creates a visually-attractive aesthetic. It can be tinted to match a wide range of RAL colours and shades from the StoColor system.

Picture caption: The acoustic performance of the Hayward Gallery at London’s Southbank Centre has been upgraded using the StoSilent Distance acoustic system, to create a new and dramatically improved acoustic environment.