Gyprock products have played a major role in providing superior acoustics offered by two new performing arts spaces in Melbourne.

Located in Southbank, the development of the Melbourne Recital Centre and Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) involved the construction of several performing arts spaces, as well as auxiliary buildings such as cafes and rehearsal studios.

Acoustics were an important consideration for both buildings, but most particularly for the recital centre. Located on a busy strip in Melbourne’s arts precinct, where noisy trams regularly pass, it was critical that traffic noise and vibrations did not enter the recital hall or theatre and disrupt performances.

According to Mark Waldock, Site Foreman, Expoconti, the acoustic issues were one of the project’s most significant challenges. In the Recital Centre, the whole hall sits on acoustic shock absorbers. It has been constructed on resilient mounts to isolate it from the rest of the structure and ensure that performances are not adversely affected by outside noise.

The decision to isolate the structure was made after extensive testing, which showed that the Recital Hall needed more acoustic treatment than the theatre to keep out noise. The auditorium box was supported on acoustic springs located directly above the foyer’s concrete columns. These springs were designed to transfer the downward weight of the building as well as lateral loads from wind or even earthquakes, into the pile foundations, while at the same time insulating the box from external noise and vibration sources.

Unusual designs for the ventilation shafts were also required to achieve the required acoustic performance. The air conditioning shaft design incorporated multiple cavities with multiple layers of Fyrchek to create the necessary isolation.

Another challenge for the contractor came from the plaster glass ceiling. The intricate ceiling had many curves and shapes, all featuring different radii and elliptical heights.

The perforated board, custom made by CSR Gyprock , and used in the public area at the entry of the hall, was another unique feature of the job.

The original drawings called for plaster glass but as the design requested a continuous flow of holes across the whole ceiling with 15mm perforation at 40mm centres and no joints sighted, plasterboard seemed a better option. The solution came through 1350 Recessed Edge sheets that CSR Gyprock had specially perforated.

Alongside the six-storey, 1000-seat Elizabeth Murdoch Recital Hall and a salon to seat 150 people, is located. The five-storey Melbourne Theatre Company will seat 500, along with a 150-seat rehearsal space.