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Top of the class: How ceilings are aiding learning for today’s youth

A school is a world in itself. A self-contained eco-system which, like our wider world, is experiencing over-crowding, with class sizes rising, and a distracted population, and ever-more social media outlets clamouring for attention. For this, teachers face more and more challenges each day, and when it comes to engaging

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Armstrong Provides Acoustic Solutions for Balloch Campus

A showcase campus has enabled three schools to co-locate, while also providing a showpiece for a trio of Armstrong Ceiling Solutions, including TechZone™, the industry’s first easy-to-specify-and-install ceiling acoustic solution with integrated technical services. The new state-of-the-art Balloch Campus in West Dunbartonshire features three highly acoustic Armstrong Ceiling Solutions throughout

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Data centre suspension system launched by Armstrong Ceilings

The new Prelude 24 Max grid optimises load carrying and minimises air leakage.  A suspension system specifically designed to meet the exacting requirements of data centres has been launched by Armstrong Ceiling Solutions. The new Prelude® 24 Max™ grid provides excellent load carrying capability and adaptability, with an extremely efficient method

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Armstrong launches its ultimate ceilings and walls guide

The ultimate guide to ceiling and wall solutions is now available from leading UK manufacturer Armstrong. The company’s new Main Line Brochure makes it even easier for architects and designers to specify ceiling and wall solutions thanks to a simplified but inspiring layout. The new catalogue illustrates with stunning architectural

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Latest Issue

BDC 317 : Jun 2024

ceiling

Top of the class: How ceilings are aiding learning for today’s youth

A school is a world in itself. A self-contained eco-system which, like our wider world, is experiencing over-crowding, with class sizes rising, and a distracted population, and ever-more social media outlets clamouring for attention. For this, teachers face more and more challenges each day, and when it comes to engaging and holding students’ attention, they need all the help they can get. This is where the school’s physical environment comes into play. Here, Ian Clarke, Armstrong Ceiling Solutions’ commercial technical manager, outlines a few ways the ceiling itself can aid and promote learning, as well as some of the critical considerations for designing spaces in which learning can thrive. Sound principles Research clearly shows acoustics have a profound impact on learning. In their study of two schools in London, for example, Evans and Maxwell1 concluded that poor acoustics can result in many students struggling to understand one in four words spoken. And, as classroom sizes grow and teachers strain to be overheard, acoustic performance in a ceiling is always the first thing architects turn to for aiding learning. However, it’s not as simple as it may seem. Minimising classroom din is not just about specifying ceilings with the highest levels of sound absorption because while diminishing class noise, it would – by extension – mute teachers’ voices, leading to vocal strain and fatigue for tutors, and classes being unable to hear lessons. A balance is needed between sound absorption and attenuation, between removing and reflecting sound to enable students to hear and teachers to be heard. Light learning Research has also shown a conclusive link between the provision of natural light and academic success – with one study2 showing that students working in classrooms with higher levels of daylight achieve 7% to 18% higher test scores. Another – Clever Classrooms3 – suggests that classroom design has a c25% impact, positive or negative, on students’ academic progress. Flooding interiors with natural light is a way not just to improve student performance but also to reduce reliance on artificial lighting. Combining highly-white, highly-reflective mineral ceiling tiles with larger windows or floor-to-ceiling glazing is an easy solution but again, it’s key to maintain balance. Too much natural light can cause eye strain or create glare for students and staff alike, so reflectance must be balanced with diffusion. Stimulating design Every architect wants to create stimulating spaces for learning but there’s a wealth of complications in designing ceilings for learning environments. For example, in classrooms accommodating children with special educational needs, the ceiling specification requires particular consideration to avoid designs that could exacerbate their conditions. Best practice, in line with UK Government standards like BB93, also includes minimising reverberation, keeping ceilings low (below 2.4m) and using Class A absorbent finishes. A balance needs to be maintained between aesthetics and practicality. While exposed soffits may help reduce schools’ heating footprint, these carry their own problems for acoustics and aesthetics – a challenge that can be solved through the disguise of unsightly features using suspended ceilings and canopies. Context is everything Beyond sound, light and aesthetics, ceilings within the learning environment need to be safe and durable, compliant with legislation and meet the unique challenges of each environment. Other vital considerations are ease of installation and maintenance. Omni-directional tiles can eliminate many installation errors for an easier fitting process and reduced need for correction. There are also myriad issues to consider in ceiling placement, from pressure drops (and ‘fluttering’ when doors open) to dust collection and access to the plenum space above the ceiling. A world in itself So, we’ve addressed a few of the key concerns for how the ceiling can actively aid learning but the educational institution encompasses libraries and canteens, auditoria and offices, kitchens, cloakrooms, toilets and corridors too. Architects should take a comprehensive approach to ‘zoning’ throughout a school or college, with each zone part of a wider, self-contained ecosystem. A world in itself – that can make a world of difference to future generations. To learn more about how Armstrong Ceiling Solutions can help you create better spaces for learning, visit https://www.armstrongceilings.com/commercial/en-gb/applications/school-ceiling-tiles.html 1.Chronic Noise Exposure and Reading Deficits: The Mediating Effects of Language Acquisition. Gary W. Evans & Lorraine Maxwell, Environment and Behaviour – Volume 29, Number 5, Sep 01, 1997. 2.Daylighting Impacts on Human Performance in School. Lisa S Heschong, University of California, Santa Cruz.  Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society 31 (2) Sept 2013. 3.Clever Classrooms. Professor Peter Barrett Dr Yufan Zhang, Dr Fay Davies, Dr Lucinda Barrett. (University of Salford). Feb 2015.

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Armstrong Provides Acoustic Solutions for Balloch Campus

A showcase campus has enabled three schools to co-locate, while also providing a showpiece for a trio of Armstrong Ceiling Solutions, including TechZone™, the industry’s first easy-to-specify-and-install ceiling acoustic solution with integrated technical services. The new state-of-the-art Balloch Campus in West Dunbartonshire features three highly acoustic Armstrong Ceiling Solutions throughout – Perla OP 0.95 Tegular mineral tiles on Prelude 24 TLX grid, Parafon Hygien Board mineral tiles on a 24mm corrosion-resistant grid, and Armstrong’s revolutionary TechZone™ integrated ceiling system incorporating Perla OP MicroLook planks. Delivered by main contractor Morgan Sindall, they were specified by architects Holmes Miller for the £16 million campus for “cost and quality” reasons and installed by Armstrong’s Green Omega specialist sub-contractor Brian Hendry Interiors. As part of their membership of Armstrong’s Green Omega network of recycling installers Brian Hendry Interiors also recycled 300m2 of the new ceiling tile off-cuts during the installation process, preventing almost a tonne of material going to landfill and the consumption of an equivalent weight of raw materials. For maximum acoustic comfort some 1,600m2 of Perla OP 0.95 600mm x 600mm tiles with a Tegular edge detail within a standard 24mm grid were used in offices, classrooms and stores. These tiles perform to Sound Absorption Class A and were also the first mineral ceiling tile in Europe to win Cradle to Cradle™ certification as part of the new generation of sustainable and acoustic ceilings offered by Armstrong. In the corridors and breakout areas Armstrong’s TechZone™ integrated ceiling system was specified with a 15mm XL2 grid, fabricated to special lengths of 900, 2100 and 2400mm. Incorporating 800m2 of Perla OP 0.95 1200mm x 300mm MicroLook, the TechZone™ system was specified to achieve the aesthetics of a linear plank system and seamlessly integrate and complement the 100mm wide linear lighting arrangement. In addition, it addressed the clutter of services above in a crowded corridor installation and provided an acoustic Class A product to reduce unwanted noise in the busy ceiling plane. To complete the trio of Armstrong ceiling systems installed at Balloch Campus, 160m2 of Parafon Hygien 600mm x 600mm tiles, which offer Class A sound absorption, 95% humidity resistance and clean room classification to ISO 4, were used within a 24mm corrosion-resistant grid in the high humidity zones, such as the kitchen areas and stores. The new 53,280ft2 campus has been built on the site of the former St Kessog’s Primary and provides a new home for it, along with Haldene Primary and Jamestown Primary, to create the newly-formed school, Balloch Primary Campus*. An Additional Support Needs (ASN) unit and a new Balloch Early Learning and Childcare Centre (ELCC**) are also operating at the site. In total there are 21 open-plan flexible learning spaces for the potential 747 students, as well as a centrally-located shared administrative areas, gym halls and assembly area, while the ASN has capacity to assist 36 pupils with a varying range of support needs. The £16 million campus represents a major investment in the education offering in the area by West Dunbartonshire Council through what is now the Scottish Procurement Alliance. This supports the efficient construction, refurbishment and maintenance of social housing and public buildings throughout Scotland. With multiple stakeholders across the three schools and the local authority, the framework procurement route afforded early-stage collaboration on design, budget and timescales. The 16-month steel frame build to BIM Level 2 was completed on schedule and to budget. Brian Hendry Interiors had a team of up to 16 operatives, including apprentices, on site for five months.

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Data centre suspension system launched by Armstrong Ceilings

The new Prelude 24 Max grid optimises load carrying and minimises air leakage.  A suspension system specifically designed to meet the exacting requirements of data centres has been launched by Armstrong Ceiling Solutions. The new Prelude® 24 Max™ grid provides excellent load carrying capability and adaptability, with an extremely efficient method of suspending cable trays, bus bars and other mechanical elements to avoid air leakage through the ceiling tiles. In an environment where a constant, carefully calibrated temperature is a non-negotiable factor, the engineered system components provide the optimum conditions to avoid air leakage that could lead to overheating or spiralling cooling costs. Traditional methods suspend loads via slotted strut locations or drill holes through ceiling tiles where threaded rods are needed and in doing so increase air leakage and the mix of warm and cold air. However, designing out these details means the hot return air is retained in the plenum space and the cool air below the ceiling. The new suspension system is also capable of carrying single-point loads up to 110kgs and can be easily reconfigured to meet changing requirements. Using M10 threaded rod connections and integrated hanging clips, the Prelude 24 Max provides flexible support for cable trays and electrical distribution without the need for a separate strut channel system being suspended through the ceiling tiles. Patented load connector clips attach at any point to the face of the suspension system, eliminating unsightly threaded rod connections through the ceiling plane, improving access and aesthetics as well as minimising air infiltration. The traditional-faced 24mm profile grid minimises materials costs and labour while still being compatible with numerous Armstrong board ceiling panels including Ultima+, Clean Room FL acoustic tiles as well as standard lighting elements. The pre-engineered suspension system comes with a 30-year system warranty.   More information is accessible via the Armstrong Ceilings website https://www.armstrongceilings.com/commercial/en-gb/.  

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Armstrong launches its ultimate ceilings and walls guide

The ultimate guide to ceiling and wall solutions is now available from leading UK manufacturer Armstrong. The company’s new Main Line Brochure makes it even easier for architects and designers to specify ceiling and wall solutions thanks to a simplified but inspiring layout. The new catalogue illustrates with stunning architectural photography and technical drawings the interior solutions that help to enhance comfort, save time, improve building efficiency and overall performance, and create beautiful spaces for office, education, health, retail and transport applications. Available in 14 languages to reflect the company’s recently launched global website, the brochure guides specifiers through the myriad of design solutions available, from floating ceilings and suspension systems (including perimeter detailing and accessories), through materials such as mineral, metal, mesh and wood, to wall and special solutions for acoustic, healthcare and highly humid applications. A product selector by performance helps specifiers to select the right systems for acoustics, light reflectance, fire reaction, humidity and recycled content, with Armstrong’s pioneering recycling programmes and best in class Cradle to Cradle credentials featuring in their own section of infographics. The new comprehensive catalogue also advises on installation and maintenance, including a cleaning matrix, and offers a technical acoustical glossary as well as a route to Armstrong’s BIM files available through the new global website and BIMobject portal. It is available to download via https://www.armstrongceilings.com/commercial/en-gb/commercial-ceilings-walls/product-catalogue.html#catViewer. More information is accessible via the Armstrong Ceilings website https://www.armstrongceilings.com/commercial/en-gb/.

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