“This is your captain speaking” – can you hear me?

August 20, 2019

Cole Jarman (an RSK company) has provided acoustics advice for a one-of-a-kind project at Stansted Airport, London, UK. A new college, which will provide courses for students pursuing careers in aviation and related industries, has opened at the end of Stansted Airport’s only runway. It will be the first on-site education facility of its kind at any major UK airport.

The college, designed by Pascall+Watson and constructed by Willmott Dixon, opened in September 2018. It was supported by London Stansted and the Manchester Airport Group and backed by funding from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Local Growth Fund, Essex County Council, Uttlesford District Council and the Savoy Trust. Cole Jarman was called in to ensure that the building, located in a noisy setting, was suitably insulated to create a quiet and unobtrusive learning environment.

Acoustic consultant and associate Ian Yates led the Cole Jarman team, working closely with the architects Pascall+Watson and the contractor Willmott Dixon. Cole Jarman’s involvement started early. It conducted a noise survey to quantify aircraft noise levels at the vacant site. The acoustic design of the new building encompassed various aspects, such as internal sound insulation between rooms and room acoustics in teaching spaces. An important element was the sound insulation of the external building fabric that needed to take account of the building’s proximity to the runway and the resulting high external noise levels at times when aircraft are passing.

Cole Jarman also visited the site during construction to inspect work to help ensure the best possible sound insulation was achieved.

All these design considerations were combined to create the environment that can be observed in the classrooms when aircraft are passing: aircraft noise is dramatically reduced such that internal noise levels are sufficiently low as to avoid interference with teaching. Aircraft taking off nearby are clearly visible from within the building and viewers are impressed with how quiet it remains inside the classrooms.

Noise measurements in classrooms, the training workshop and a meeting room in the completed building showed results well within the design target, which ensures excellent conditions for teaching (in terms of minimal aircraft noise) and helps to explain the positive reactions from observers.

Cole Jarman continues to work with the Manchester Airport Group and Willmott Dixon on various aviation, education, logistics, residential and other types of project.

The project will feature in the Spaces Yearbook 2019, which will be published in October.