Project: UTV Ireland (Ulster TV)
Architecht: Andrew Howley of MCA Dublin
Main contractor: Ronan Mc Govern, MAC Interiors
Ceiling contractor: John McGowan, Roe Drylining
Acoustic consultant: David Cawley
Combining a busy office within the same space as a television studio presented a whole host of potential challenges, not least how to manage noise levels in such a wildly multi-use space…
UTV Ireland is a general entertainment channel that broadcasts to the Republic of Ireland and is a sister station to UTV’s Northern Ireland service. It launched as a new channel on 1 January 2015 from Macken House, its Dublin base. General Manager of UTV Ireland, Aine Ni Chaoindealbhain, was responsible for the company’s Dublin office, starting from a concrete block and taking it through to a full broadcasting facility.
Architect Andrew Howley of MCA Dublin described how their client decided very early on in the project that they wanted their studio to face out towards the main working office space:
‘The main criteria were to get a studio that could operate with the full acoustic performance required and the office working at the same time and neither having a negative impact on each other.’
Architect Andrew Howley
Aine explained how important it was to get the acoustics perfect: ‘If you don’t have decent audio, you won’t get the broadcast right. It was absolutely critical for us to get the right aesthetic and the right acoustic treatment.’
David Cawley, an acoustics expert described the challenge: ‘The critical challenge of the space was the fact that it’s essentially a studio to an open plan office with no physical structure between to two… and we had to design the space so that we’d minimise the amount of sound propagation from the open office into the studio.’
But first came a 3D plan of the entire facility. By looking at this, David Cawley explained, they confirmed that the ceiling was the biggest reflector of sound so that they’d need to address the ceiling space in order to reduce the amount of sound reflecting from the open plan office.
Ecophon’s Area Sales Manager Alan Crampton was called in to help provide a solution for the project. He said, ‘Acoustics is always the top priority from Ecophon’s point of view. You must have good acoustics in any working environment where you’re communicating with somebody. We’ve all been in a busy restaurant and not been able to make out what a partner or person you’re with is saying to you. We always put forward Class A sound absorbing products which absorb 85% plus of the sound that hits them. After acoustics comes the design they were looking for’.
Alan explained how one solution would have been to put in an acoustic ceiling, but that some clients prefer a different design. In the case of UTV Ireland, they wanted a bespoke baffle look that would still absorb as much sound as possible.
Andrew Howley described the product choice: ‘The Ecophon baffles are aesthetically a pleasing panel. They’ve got nice sharp edges. They’re neither too glossy or too fabric a finish and the fitted in well with our architectural design and what we hoped to achieve at the end of the project.’
’Acoustically the treatment clearly works. We have an open plan office, the news room is loud, there are people editing on open plan desks. Visually it was critical that when people walk into the building they get a sense of the modern look – that we’re a new broadcaster – and that they’d get the wow factor. The acoustic baffles definitely give us that.’
Aine Ni Chaoindealbhain, General Manager of UTV Ireland