The acoustic qualities of Gyptone perforated plasterboard by Gyprock helped meet the brief for new modular learning spaces at St Luke’s Catholic College in Marsden Park, NSW.

Modern classrooms that have been designed with a focus on function are proven to enhance a student’s learning experience and their overall engagement. Therefore, there is a demand for classrooms to become more modern and fundamentally advanced to meet the latest educational needs. Modular learning spaces designed by architects are becoming increasingly popular as they emphasise an open plan collaborative learning approach.

MBS Modular Building Systems and Atomic Interior Linings were engaged by St Luke’s Catholic College to create, manufacture and install modular learning spaces throughout their new school to accommodate 180 students. The brief sought three high-performing learning spaces with optimal acoustic parameters.

Acoustics is an important factor in the design of classrooms. Excessive background noise from traffic, adjacent classrooms, hallways and air-conditioning systems, for instance, can be quite disruptive, given the effect these noises have on a student’s listening capabilities and overall learning experience.

Keeping acoustics in mind, Gyprock’s Gyptone perforated plasterboard was specified for the ceiling structure due to the material’s superior sound absorption, ability to minimise echoes and noise reverberation, and visual aesthetics.

Gyprock Gyptone perforated plasterboard also features Activ’Air, a patented technology that helps to improve indoor air quality by converting formaldehyde into non-harmful inert compounds that are permanently locked in the board and cannot be released back into the air. When installed in ceilings, this can help reduce the concentration of formaldehyde within an environment by up to 60 per cent, even when there is continuous airflow containing formaldehyde.

Materials such as soft furnishings, plush carpet with underlay and floor-to-ceiling pinnable acoustic fabric walls were also incorporated into the classroom design to mitigate background noise and reverberation, enhancing the overall acoustic performance of these learning environments.

Acoustic testing for the new classrooms at St Luke’s Catholic College demonstrated that the reverberation times met the design criteria of 0.4 – 0.6 seconds, suggesting a low reverberation time, which indicated that the rooms delivered high performance in controlling reverberation.

“We know that good acoustics support great learning along with quality air and lighting, and these are the key elements that we want to address in today’s learning environments that weren’t addressed in traditional learning spaces,” explains Paul Meldrum, Head of Learning Innovations, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.

"The acoustic performance of the modular buildings is the best we have ever experienced to date, spanning across 80 schools in our education system. We will continue to use the same design concepts with other structures, ultimately creating comfortable environments for our students," he added.