Sākumlapa / Knowledge / Westerpark School in Amsterdam gets to grips with acoustics

Westerpark School in Amsterdam gets to grips with acoustics

Poor acoustics and excessive reverberation in a classroom produces tiredness and poor concentration in students and teachers. Fortunately there are solutions.

The Westerpark School, a primary school in Amsterdam, improved the acoustics in three classrooms and the responses have been overwhelmingly positive.

Exterior image of Westerpark school

 Peter Meijboom is a Housing and ICT adviser of AWBR (Amsterdam West Binnen de Ring), a foundation for public primary education. AWBR is the Board of Governors for 17 primary schools in Amsterdam, including the Westerpark School. He laments the fact that the Netherlands does not have statutory standards for acoustics in schools.

“Acoustics is underrated in educational buildings,” he says. “It’s perhaps abstract, but that doesn’t make it any less important. If you have too long reverberation in your classroom, it results in tiredness and loss of concentration of students and you want to limit that as much as possible. As a Board of Governors we believe it is important to consider this aspect. If you have 30 children in a classroom and you don’t ventilate properly, that is as bad as poor acoustics in the classroom.” 

During the Christmas break of this school year, the school started with three classrooms and worked on the ceilings and the walls. Ecophon carried out a pilot and the classrooms were modified to meet three different levels of reverberation time for people to experience the difference in the acoustics according to the latest Dutch classroom acoustic recommendations, “PvE Frisse Skolen”.

“We discovered that you could improve the acoustics with relatively simple solutions. The panels we used are easy to apply, it really isn’t rocket science,” says Meijboom. “I have regularly met Ecophon at events and I’m impressed with the way they talk about problems with acoustics. They are keen on knowledge transfer and inform people who may have operated in ignorance.” 

The Westerpark school building was built in 1984, which is quite typical in the Netherlands, as most school buildings are decades old. Peter Meijboom explained that schools only need to comply with the Buildings Decree applicable at the time the school was built.

“In those days there were no requirements for acoustics or ventilation. Today we have projects like the indoor climate guideline “Frisse Scholen” but that is really something of the last few years. Although we have limited resources at our disposal, we endeavour to maintain things in the best possible way and that means getting to grips with acoustics when we renovate.”

The modifications to the Westerpark school were extremely welcome. Not only to improve the sound quality in the short term but also long term and sustainable comfortable working and learning conditions for everyone. 

The teachers at Westerpark school are very satisfied with the result. They were used to working in a relatively old school building and had to adjust as well as they could.

“The teachers had gotten used to the situation and didn’t realise the possibilities,” explains Meijboom. “They were positively surprised by the result of the modifications.”

It is still too early to draw conclusions about reduced stress or sickness absence amongst teachers and they are difficult aspects to measure.

“However,” says Meijboom, “that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. The fact that we have no data yet does not alter the fact that you have an obligation to care for your staff and to ensure they have a comfortable work environment. Acoustics is an integral part of that.” 

The Board of Governors is determined to modify more classrooms over the coming years.

“Recently we modified our sports halls so they are at an acceptable level. The halls were well above the maximum reverberation time. When we tackle a school and carry out a major overhaul, we will certainly include the acoustics.”


Text: Elsbeth Witt

Photos: Ingredient Media



The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) classroom acoustic recommendations

Room acoustics

Class C - minimal

Class B - standard

Class A - optimum

Reverberation Time (T30) in classrooms with furniture

< 0,8 s

< 0,6 s

< 0,4 s

The average RT is the average value over 250-2000 Hz


The measured RT in the 125 Hz octave band can differ max 30% of the average RT 


The measured RT in the 125 Hz octave band can differ max 30% of the average RT 




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