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Grade II Listed Anglican Church rejoices at new acoustic secondary glazing installation

8 Jun 2021
Case study

Working together with Main Contractor Stone Edge and Architects Brownhill Hayward Brown, Selectaglaze installed 47 secondary glazing units to several large gothic arched stained-glass windows in St Philips Church, Wolverhampton for the purpose of noise insulation and thermal insulation.

St Philip’s is a Grade II Listed Anglican Church in the Penn Fields Conservation Area, 3.5km south-west of the centre of Wolverhampton. In the early 19th century, Penn Fields was practically rural – open fields and a network of country lanes leading to Wolverhampton. As suburban life started to develop and progressively move west, the population started to swell. The nearby village church of St Bartholomew could not accommodate the numbers of new churchgoers; therefore, an acre of land was bequeathed, in Penn Fields, for the construction of a new church.

St Philip’s was built between 1858 – 1859 to Victorian Gothic designs prepared by Wolverhampton architects Griffin and Weller. Constructed with rock-faced stone with ashlar dressings under tiled roofs and with stunning original stained-glass windows, the church is the focal point of the village. The first vicar, Reverend William Dalton invested £3000 in exchange for the patronage and was licensed as Perpetual Curate of the Church in October 1859. The suburb grew through the early 20th century, with further domestic buildings and the extension of the church grounds to the west to form a vast graveyard.

In 1991 Wolverhampton Borough Council designated St Philip’s (Penn Fields) a Conservation Area with the church forming its centrepiece. In 1996 as part of a large internal modelling project, the Church was divided to increase the multi-functionality of the building. Worship is undertaken on the upper floor, with the ground floor playing host to community events and uses, thanks to the addition of a series of function rooms.

Architects Brownhill Hayward Brown and Main Contractor Croft Construction were tasked with a full-scale internal refurbishment of the Church in 2020. As part of the works, the original large gothic arched church windows, which could not be replaced, required a solution to raise their thermal efficiency so that community activities downstairs, like children’s groups could take place in a comfortable environment. Furthermore, it was imperative that noise egress on the ground floor, which had internal and external facing windows was kept to a minimum, so as not to disturb those worshiping on the upper floor.

Brownhill Hayward Brown got in touch with Selectaglaze, the leading specialist in secondary glazing to explore treatment options that would complement the church windows and be effective in preventing noise ingress and egress and thermal insulation. In addition, access to the primary windows for ongoing maintenance and cleaning was required.

Selectaglaze secondary glazing fitted with standard glass can substantially reduce noise levels by up to 45dB and even higher levels if thicker glass is used. The bespoke units can reflect the lines of the original windows, including gothic arched, curved, round and curved on plan to ensure original sightlines are not compromised. Furthermore, secondary glazing placed in front of stained-glass panels can incorporate anti-reflective glass to maintain clarity.

Given the sheer magnitude of the church windows, and obscure shaping of the stone reveals on the ground floor, at first glance the installations looked challenging. but when Selectaglaze visited St Philip’s to survey, it was found that a simpler solution could be adopted. The window reveals were deep enough to accept the standard fixing method, creating a cavity between the primary and secondary glazing to meet the necessary acoustic and thermal reductions. The arched windows on the first floor were supported by wooden frames but could still be adapted with an identical solution to the windows on the ground floor.

Selectaglaze installed 34 units to 11 openings, a combination of 11 Series 10 slimline horizontal sliding units and 23 Series 46 slimline fixed light units. Fixed light secondary glazing can be coupled together with other products such as horizontal sliding units as over lights or side lights - ideal for arched windows as they can be shaped or curved to a full circle.

In each of the four stone openings on the ground floor, three Series 46 fixed lights were transom coupled to a Series 10 horizonal sliding unit. The horizontal slider was fitted in the lower half of the reveal for access to clean the primary windows, with the fixed lights coupled above to follow the tracery of the beautiful original gothic arches. The community space has now been made more thermally efficient with the addition of secondary glazing and they should start to see a reduction in heating costs, with less heat escaping and the draughts eliminated.

A similar installation was executed in the Church space on the first floor in five wooden reveals. Series 46 fixed lights were transom coupled side by side above a Series 10 horizontal slider in each window opening with a good cavity to reduce noise egress. Events on the ground floor can be held at the same time as church services, without disrupting prayer.

“Aesthetically it all looks excellent, the thermal glazing on the external window does seem to make the community rooms considerably warmer when heated, as we have held small business meetings in them, however the acoustic glazing awaits fully testing its effectiveness as and when COVID restrictions allow.” Peter Smith, Vicar of St Philip’s Church.

Founded in 1966, Royal Warrant holder Selectaglaze has considerable experience of working within Listed and sensitive buildings. An extensive range of literature and guidance notes covering acoustics, thermal performance and added security is offered, together with a technical advisory service and RIBA approved CPD Seminars. Sign up  for monthly Selectaglaze e-bulletins, with recent updates, new blogposts and events

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