Thursday, 19 June 2008

Noise Conditioning


OK, there is a real issue with air conditioning in big learning spaces. Big spaces require a LOT of cool air to stop them being big ovens in places as warm as the Caribbean. But moving all that air down these huge pipes (see photo) requires fans that would get the building airborne if it wasn't concreted down! And the noise is prohibitive: bad for learning, bad for communicating (for assemblies a mike must be worn), bad for concentration (it IS white noise and it IS loud). The answer is perhaps to reduce scale - smaller schools need smaller halls, with smaller volumes and thus small air con plants.

It is interesting to see how often the decisions made in the past to "go large" to achieve economies of scale and to enjoy (often mythical) productivity gains somehow led us into a whole host of bad consequences: disengagement, impersonal space, dreadful acoustics, bullying and so on.

But noise this loud is a real show stopper. I was discussing with Jim Knight the UK Schools Minister how we might build a triple glazed geodetic dome around a school on the Heathrow flight path to allow the children inside to enjoy "outside-learning" without the huge interruption of a Jumbo jet passing every couple of minutes. I do hope we get to build it - but if we do the air conditioning will have to be a lot quieter than this, or there will be no gain at all...

3 comments:

tomstacey said...

maybe the answer is big fans going slower? COuld you build schools in old windtunnels?! :-)

Steven Martin said...

...or maybe the answer is a "Chilled Beam"! Read about it here if you are interested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilled_beam

Air conditioning said...

I totally agree with you. It is an expensive job to place air conditioners of that size will be expensive and also to guarantee the cooling space will also be an issue.