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Tyneside Cinema Cafe Bar

Apex was delighted to be awarded the top prize in the most competitive category of Architectural Acoustics at the Association of Noise Consultants Awards in June 2015, against strong competition from the other short listed entries from Cundall and Arup.

Jack Harvie-Clark receives the accolade from Paige Hodsman of Ecophon (Award sponsors), and guest Philippa Forrester

In the Tyneside Cinema cafe bar, the developers sought to create a film screening area at the back of the cafe bar.  The Tyneside Cinema sought to create an acoustic environment that had never been achieved elsewhere.  The concept was for a café bar that contains a film screening area and simultaneously achieve acoustic conditions that enable:

  • Film-watchers to enjoy the film without excessive intrusion of café bar noise but with the benefit of the café bar atmosphere and facilities;
  • Café bar patrons to enjoy a lively atmosphere enhanced by the film screening but without excessive distraction, particularly from speech in the film soundtrack;
  • The ability to flexibly use both areas as one space.

When the project was conceived by the Tyneside Cinema, it was not known whether it was acoustically possible to achieve these requirements.  The single precedent for this type of space in the UK is regularly criticised for failing on acoustic grounds.  As entirely innovative acoustic conditions were sought, it was imperative that the design approach was pioneering from the outset.

Tyneside cinema cafe bar
View of the screening area in the rear across the cafe bar. Photography by Jill Tate

The first challenge was to understand the acoustic aspirations of the client and translate these into acoustic performance criteria for design.  Parameters including signal to noise ratios (SNR) for both sufficient speech intelligibility and limitation of distraction, with equivalent values for Speech Transmission Index (STI), and hence radii of distraction and privacy, rD and rP.  When undertaking novel work like this it is essential to have more than one reference to established performance and evaluation criteria.

The design relies on the simultaneous assessment of varying levels of ambient noise in the café bar with occupancy levels, preferred cinema sound levels, sound transmission through the bespoke acoustic curtain, spatial variation of transmitted sound in the café bar, and the potential intelligibility and distraction of a speech signal.  The entirely innovative approach used to assess and design the acoustic conditions involves a synthesis of established and recent research from many different areas of acoustics, including:

Acoustic modelling of Tyneside Cinema cafe bar
Acoustic modelling of Tyneside Cinema cafe bar with acoustic curtain

The success of the design is evident by the delight of the client with the acoustic conditions achieved, and the success of the establishment.

Mark Dobson, Tyneside Cinema Chief Executive comments:

When we set out to create this new space, we were acutely aware that no-one has previously managed to do so successfully.  The acoustics were always going to be a major risk, and the reason that this type of space does not operate as well as it might in other venues.  Acoustically it is like trying to put opposite things next to each other in one space – in the cinema, people need to be able to hear the film, but in the café area they don’t want to be distracted by it.

We are delighted with the conditions and flexibility that Apex has designed for us.  The acoustic curtain allows us to provide good separation between the spaces when we want it, but it is also very easy to use flexibly, and open up into a more inclusive space.  It is enabling us to use the space in more ways than we had originally conceived, and goes beyond our expectations.  Thank you Apex!

See the programme of events in the Tyneisde Cinema cafe bar here.

Tyneside Cinema cafe bar film screening
Enjoying a classic!
Apex Acoustics Ltd Design Works, William St, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE10 0JP Head office: 0191 620 0750 Midlands: 0115 708 0750

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