Murchison House, a building steeped in history since its construction in 1977, has received a significant refurbishment, giving the University of Edinburgh a stunning new purpose-designed venue on its King’s Buildings Campus. Reconfigured to provide light-filled, comfortable spaces for students and staff to work, relax and study, architects Reiach & Hall turned to Knauf AMF Heradesign to create a first-class acoustic solution that would also align with the university’s contemporary design brief.
The project has involved a full refurbishment of all five floors within Murchison House. In addition to housing essential support services, IT, visual facilities and an open-plan teaching hub, the transformed building now enjoys a bustling cafe and student-focused study areas.
The University’s design brief stipulated an increase in the floor-to-ceiling height across the building as a way of increasing light and space. By removing the suspended ceiling system to reveal the exposed services, this immediately achieved the desired look, but it was important that the architects considered the impact this would have on sound quality.
Reiach & Hall specified Knauf AMF Heradesign to deliver a suspended raft system in the cafe and breakout areas. Cut to create a series of triangular rafts, the 80m² floating ceiling solution offered the illusion of height above the system and provided excellent acoustic performance. Meanwhile in the study areas, 100m² of Heradesign wall absorbers were installed throughout the study zones continuing the geometric theme.
Speaking about the complex design, Wynne McLeish of Reiach & Hall comments:
“Working within the constraints of an existing 1970s building with low ceilings and limited wall space, we looked to design a suspended raft system. This not only allowed us to achieve the required acoustic rating but also detract focus away from the new exposed services. The triangular forms were used to echo the unusual geometric plan of the building and the colour white to reflect light into the space. The versatility and texture of the Knauf AMF Heradesign allowed us to create a fun, bespoke feature for the cafe, which was light enough to be quickly installed by the contractor.”
The ceiling contractors, D V McColl, were instructed by Kier to complete the complex installation. David McColl comments:
“This was a challenging project as we had to ensure each triangle was cut and installed with absolute precision. Thanks to the rigidity of Heradesign, we found the product very easy to cut and achieve accuracy. This, combined with the swift fixing process, meant there were no delays along the way.”
The £7.7m contract was awarded to Kier Construction and work commenced at the end of 2017. The project was scheduled to complete in time for the start of the teaching semester in September 2018. In respect of the tight deadline, it was vital that all supply partners worked harmoniously with the project team to ensure the design brief could be met on time and within budget.
Senior Project Manager at Kier Construction, Neil Kemp adds:
“Having a reliable and responsive supply chain is critical to ensure projects are carried out as smoothly and efficiently as possible. As a key manufacturer on this refurbishment, Knauf AMF continually impressed us with how it conducted itself on-site and met the tight schedule of the project.”
For Murchison House, the use of Heradesign Fine offers a unique design feature that pushes the boundaries of design. Its versatility is becoming increasingly recognised among specifiers. The ability to match with any colour allows it to enhance any design aesthetic. It is available in a wide selection of shapes, face patterns, edge details and sizes, and can be fixed to walls or suspended as ceilings, baffles and rafts. Manufactured from robust sustainable materials, Heradesign offers high impact resistance and superior fire resistance, which is paramount for any building.