Cundall, Birmingham - Sound Masking - Vaughan Sound

Vaughan Sound has successfully installed an integrated sound masking system, as part of a large-scale office refurbishment scheme for international, multi-disciplinary consultancy Cundall.

The award-winning engineering service company relocated its Birmingham office to 15 Colmore Row in 2014. Just three years later, through continued growth, its fourth floor had reached capacity and the decision was taken to expand by taking up the fifth floor too.

Cundall’s design intent for this space focused strongly around using their hugely successful London office as a template. A key aim was to also achieve a second WELL Building Standard accreditation, and a first in the Midlands. This subsequently put great emphasis on the emotional and physical wellbeing of their staff and the building’s occupants. The WELL Building Standard combines best practices in construction and design with evidence-based health and wellness interventions. It harnesses the built environment as a vehicle to support human health, wellbeing and comfort in the workplace. WELL Certified spaces can not only boost collaboration, but also help improve the fitness, mood, nutrition, sleep patterns, performance and productivity of their regular users.

Appointed following previous work for Momo Hoshijima, Senior Acoustic Consultant based at Cundall’s London office, Vaughan Sound was tasked with designing and implementing a sound masking scheme which was compliant with stringent specifications under Part 79 of the WELL Building Standard.

As such, we proposed products from industry leading direct-field sound masking manufacturer, Cambridge Sound Management. The fifth-floor offices have received a rack mounted Qt300 three-zone controller, featuring two auxiliary line inputs to allow for piped background music and public address announcements.

This has been combined with a total of 36 CSM Active Sound Masking emitters – installed using universal mounting brackets – which deliver uniform sound masking across the open plan floor space, where workers are in close proximity and conversations could previously be easily overheard. An SD card based stereo MP3 audio player, again rack mounted, completes the setup, enabling Cundall management easy audio playback of files of their choosing. Their specialist acoustics team have since introduced soundscaping across the area, utilising birdsong and other natural sounds as a welcoming feature for staff and visitors.

Vaughan Sound’s scope of works included design, installation and commissioning, tuning, testing and accurate decibel measurements, plus end user training upon completion. The sound masking aims to mitigate uncomfortable acoustic disruptions and increase speech privacy by adding low level background noise to the environment, lessening the contrast in the case of an aural interruption.

Acoustic Partner at Cundall, Andrew Parkin said: “This is an exciting time for Cundall, with sustained growth and confidence in the region we are able to look forward to growing further in the heart of the city. This prime location has enhanced communications with our clients and helped develop relationships with new ones. The addition of the fifth floor will enable us to attract new talent and provide us with much needed space for collaborative working.”