Plasterboard from Knauf Drywall is playing both functional and decorative roles in the redevelopment of Barts and The London hospitals, currently Europe’s largest private finance initiative (PFI) in healthcare. Knauf Soundshield is the main component in a range of drywall solutions providing required standards of acoustic privacy and fire resistance in partition walls for the new buildings at Barts in Smithfield and The London in Whitechapel. Knauf plasterboard will also be used to create stunning architectural effects at both sites.

The redevelopment for Barts and The London NHS Trust is a £1billion construction project, involving two-year drywall packages totalling £21 million. Drywall specialists The BDL Group plc have been appointed for the Barts package, and will share the larger package at The London with Measom Dryline. Capital Hospitals, a new company involving the Trust’s private sector partners Skanska, Innisfree and John Laing, is managing construction and providing ongoing management of the buildings for 42 years. Construction began in April 2006 and key facilities are due to open in 2010, 2012 and 2014, with overall completion scheduled for 2016.

Project architect Adriaan Vorster of HOK says a dramatic four storey part plasterboard wall will be the backdrop to the minimalist glazed entrance lobby to the new buildings at The London. “Barts will have a 40 metre entrance ‘tunnel’ lined and vaulted with plasterboard, and leading to a seven storey high triangular atrium,” he says.

Elsewhere at both sites, Knauf Soundshield is used in various specifications to provide airborne sound reductions from 30dB to 45dB (Rw) as detailed in Health Technical Memorandum 2045. Peter Fillmore of The BDL Group plc says the acoustic performance of partition constructions was tested in a specially built chamber at The London, ahead of the main installation. “The Knauf Drywall Technical Team provided significant input at the start of the project, enabling some 50 different wall specifications to be rationalised to just 15 drywall constructions,” he says. Some of these, such as compartment walls, required fire ratings of up to 120 minutes.

Jason Pelham of Measom Dryline says the use of factory built high level mechanical and electrical service modules in the corridor ceilings avoids the problems of service penetrations which often affect the acoustic performance of drywall in hospitals. “The penetrations are in the modules, rather than the partitions, and will be formed and fire-stopped prior to the modules’ arrival on site. There may still be acoustic losses, but there will be greater control over them. Traditionally, the difficulty would be trying to build partitions with limited access due to services, penetrations and firestopping. These issues are negated by the modular construction, and the partition is simply built to the underside of the modules,” he says.

Spencer Maynard, Knauf Drywall Regional Specification Director, says the minimum solution for hospital partitions is generally a layer of 15mm Knauf Soundshield on each side of a 70mm Knauf ‘C’ Stud. Other high performance plasterboards and products from the Knauf Drywall range are used to meet the full range of requirements to resist sound, fire, moisture and impact. These solutions are detailed in the Hospitals brochure, part of Knauf Drywall’s free Design Partner Series. Spencer Maynard says the Barts and The London projects add to a significant portfolio of high profile healthcare developments where Knauf Drywall systems and expertise have helped contractors to deliver quality drywall solutions. “Our extensive experience enables us to advise on the correct detailing to ensure compliance with specifications and regulations in any situation,” he says, “and we have the systems to avoid the potential logistical nightmare of delivering bulky materials to sites where access and space are often restricted.”

Knauf Drywall manufactures a full range of plasters, plasterboards, insulating laminates, dry flooring, drywall accessories, and metal sections for domestic, commercial and public sector applications. Knauf Drywall pioneered carbon neutral plasterboard in the UK with Knauf Futurepanel. Knauf Drywall also actively promotes recycling from building sites and has a zero waste policy in its energy efficient factories at Sittingbourne in Kent and Immingham on Humberside.

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