The opening of a new purpose designed facility in Staffordshire, where Ecophon has been one of the key suppliers, shows there remains a role for activities outside the classroom; giving youngsters the chance to gain valuable life skills. Public, media and parental concerns about the safety of adventure holidays has put this aspect of children’s education under threat.

Laches Wood Outdoor Education Centre, located near the village of Coven, has been built by Staffordshire County Council in order for children to enjoy and learn from such challenges as canoeing and orienteering. The new residential wing there, designed by Hulme Upright Manning, under the direction of partner Roy Manning, can accommodate 70 children and adult supervisors within a well insulated timber frame structure.

Across the lobby and corridor areas Ecophon Focus D tiles have been employed to create soffits offering clean lines and good acoustic performance. In line with Approved Document E of the Building Regulations, the reverberation time for these communal areas has been restricted to produce an excellent sound environment.

The project architect for Hulme Upright Manning, Mr Jason Brindley, comments: “The primary reason for specifying Ecophon was the acoustics. The Laches Wood building is a residential, dormitory facility attached to an outdoor recreation centre operated by Staffordshire District Council, and has several separate areas for staff and children as well as a family facility. We employed a specialist acoustic consultant to ensure our designs complied fully with Part E of the Building Regulations and they specified the use of Ecophon.”

Having employed the manufacturer’s products on other projects in the past, Hulme Upright Manning was happy to follow this recommendation and used Focus D with the shadow line at the perimeter of the ceiling to give it more visual interest. The building has been in use for some months now and the acoustic control is described as ‘completely satisfactory’ by the architect.

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