Birtenshaw School is a school for children with special educational needs in Bolton. Students who have learning disabilities benefit from a design approach that reduces visual and auditory distractions. Distractions can arise from other students passing through nearby corridors, or from noisy sports or music activities, or from external distractions, such as buses or grass cutting.

Prior to construction of the school, Miller Goodall was appointed by the design team to carry out an acoustic review of the façade noise ingress and proposed partitioning systems for sound reduction purposes.


The finished school needed to comply with Approved Document Part E of the Building Regulations 2000; the most common way of demonstrating compliance with AD Part E is to satisfy the performance requirements of Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) Acoustic Design of Schools.

To achieve this, we undertook a comprehensive review of façade and wall designs and advised on several key areas to bring these in line with detailed acoustic design requirements of BB93.


The first part of this process was to undertake a noise survey at the proposed site to establish the noise levels impacting on the facades of the new school. The next step was to calculate the internal noise levels in teaching spaces as a result of noise ingress through the building envelope, and to confirm the suitability of the proposed natural ventilation solutions. We then undertook a review of the proposed roof constructions and advised on the measures necessary to control impact noise generated during heavy rain.

One of the key considerations was the provision of adequate room-to-room sound insulation and advice was provided on the necessary constructions to meet BB93 minimum requirements. One area of particular interest at the school was the proposed use of Durisol blocks to construct both external and separating walls. This relatively uncommon building material resembles large, hollow blocks made from cement bonded wood fibre that are assembled on-site and filled with high density concrete.

Our specialist knowledge in designing flanking details was put to good use as there were a number of areas where flanking paths could have significantly impaired the performance of separating walls. Details were developed for a number of key junctions for both Durisol and traditional drywall constructions including novel partition head details, junctions with underfloor heating systems and junctions with low performance flanking walls. Specifications were also provided for internal surface finishes to provide the necessary control of reverberation and so aid speech intelligibility.

Action and outcome

Sound insulation testing and internal noise measurements within the new school were completed successfully and handover was completed shortly after.

For more information

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