“The conversion of St Peter’s has been a dream come true and SSD’s part in making it such a fantastic rehearsal and recording space has been absolutely central to its success. The understanding, expertise and care with which SSD specified the acoustic elements turned a good project into a great one”
John Summers, CEO Halle Concerts Society
Sitting at the centre of the “world’s first industrial suburb”, the historic industrial district of Ancoats in Manchester, St Peter’s church is a grade II listed building, and now the first permanent rehearsal space for the Halle Orchestra in its 153-year history.
The first phase of Sound Space Design’s work with the Halle in 2009 involved a feasibility study of St Peter’s, with the aim of providing a base for its orchestral, choral, education and youth activities. In October 2011 two large grants of close to £1M enabled the project to move into the design and planning stages, with Sound Space Design continuing to provide acoustics advice and support.
This exciting project opened in June 2013 and provides the orchestra with a rehearsal and recording venue with space to accommodate the largest ensembles over 100 musicians and an audio monitoring room, acoustically isolated from the main space for professional quality recording. Along with the main orchestra St Peter’s is now the base for the Halle Choir, Youth Orchestra, Youth Choir and Children’s Choir, alongside the Halle Concerts Society’s education and community work.
In preparation for the construction project, Sound Space Design worked with the Halle Orchestra on a number of preliminary uses of the church to test various options for the acoustics and orchestra layouts. One project was particularly exciting: in readiness for a video shoot of the Halle in St Peter’s for BBC 4’s four part documentary “Symphony” that aired in November 2011, the Halle wanted to improve the clarity of sound, both for the orchestra ensemble playing and for the quality of the recording. The solution was to provide sound reflecting surfaces close to the orchestra, below the high nave ceiling of the church, and to reduce the reverberation of the space to an appropriate level. Any acoustics treatment had to be non-invasive, with no material effect on the building fabric, so Sound Space Design and AMPC designed and built a series of sound reflecting “Sound Sails”. Constructed of specially chosen and tested fabric, the SoundSails went on to become a key part of the acoustical solution and architectural statement for St Peter’s.
With a city centre location and an increasing number of apartment building springing up around the site, noise intrusion was a concern. Secondary glazing was installed along with acoustically treated passive ventilation ducts – together these elements silence the sound of traffic from outside so that every delicate note is heard clearly with no disruptions.
The Halle Orchestra is an integral part of Manchester’s culture, and with its first permanent home it now has a material place in the city. The new St Peter’s is already seeing uses beyond its initial brief, such as the Manchester International Festival’s acclaimed 2013 performance of Macbeth with Kenneth Branagh, and it’s meaning for the city will only continue to grow.
For further details on our Sound Sails, please visit our product development page, or email us at email@example.com.
An article in Ecclesiastical and Heritage World featured this, and another successful 2013 Sound Space Design refurbishment project Jeanne Lamon Hall | Tafelmusik, Trinity-St Paul’s in Toronto. To read the feature please follow this link.