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Client: FourFront Group

  • RIBA Stages
    • 3: Developed Design
    • 4: Technical Design
    • 5: Construction
    • 6: Handover and Close Out

What we did

Motability are a service provider of modified cars and vehicles for use by disabled persons. This particular project covered the refurbishment of 4 of their existing offices in Bristol and London.

We were initially asked to advise on the reverberation aspects of changing the open plan office ceiling in the Bristol office. This expanded to a full BREEAM acoustic assessment, including office privacy, background noise levels and atmospheric noise emission.

As a result, we:

  • Established the existing acoustic conditions in each of the office buildings to benchmark the refurbishment and meet appropriate internal and external noise levels for planning and BREEAM plant noise requirements;
  • Drew up comparisons between the parallel projects in Bristol and London and in the context of established standards;
  • Provided internal acoustic advice on the office fit outs to achieve regulatory acoustic standards and levels at least equivalent to other significant London commercial offices;
  • Made site inspection visits during construction to check acoustically critical details and provide further design and construction support;
  • Conducted internal and external acoustic commissioning tests to demonstrate compliance with the required British Council of Offices and BREEAM standards.

Acoustic features of this project

The fit outs needed to accommodate a range of uses including open plan offices for high telephone use staff, associated training and support areas including a café, an executive floor, and other meeting rooms.

The specific acoustic issues this project faced included:

  • Noise levels and disturbance in the open plan office and call centre areas;
  • Privacy and confidentiality in meeting rooms and executive areas;
  • Noise from the mechanical ventilation system.

So that we could establish the current noise and vibration levels, we carried out:

  • An internal acoustic conditions survey, including sound insulation testing, of the existing offices and meeting rooms to inform the design process and help set client expectations;
  • An external plant noise survey to establish building services noise and traffic noise intrusion and,
  • An environmental noise survey to establish existing ambient noise levels for the purposes of BREEAM and planning requirements.

At the same time, we also inspected the buildings to identify potential points of weakness, particularly for partition locations.

The results of our surveys informed our review of the proposed bold, modern design and our recommendations for modifications that would both improve the acoustic conditions of each office building, as well as adhere to the British Council of Offices' Guide to Fit Out and Guide to Specification guidelines.

Our recommendations included:

  • Acoustic timber strip ceilings, acoustic wall panels and conventional acoustic ceilings were used to reduce reverberation and lessen sound transfer between telesales groups and between offices and meeting rooms;
  • Graphics were placed on acoustic wall panels using ‘recent to market’ techniques which could be used to enhance branding or communicate other key messages;
  • Use of an acoustic vertical slat ceiling in the café and reception areas to reduce noise build up and provide a relaxing environment for rest and recovery away from work.

Ceilings, partition systems, doors and associated interfaces were all important in achieving the desired acoustic performance. So too was minimising the noise from the air conditioning system and outside traffic for BREEAM purposes.

This project won the British Council of Offices 2014 Fit Out of Workplace Regional Award for South West, Thames Valley & South Wales.

The project team

Architect: Area Squared & AWW Architects
Interior Designer: Area Squared
M&E Engineer: Foreman Roberts
Project Manager: Area Squared
Acoustics: Adnitt Acoustics


  • High telephone use open plan offices
  • Privacy between offices and meeting rooms
  • BREEAM and BCO Guide to Specification


Do you have a similar acoustics requirement for your commercial office development? 

Get in touch with one of our consultants to find out how we can help:

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  020 7099 9735

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