PFI Project Specialists for schools and colleges

Movable Acoustic Walls and Sliding Folding Partition Systems

13th February 2009

Making space work harder in schools and colleges

Neil O'Halleran, Marketing Director at Brockhouse, a movable walls specialist for PFI projects, takes a closer look at the new generation of acoustic movable walls and partitions, and the impact that they are having in BSF Schools and Academies.

The government's BSF programme is part of a GBP100bn initiative aims to rebuild or refurbish every secondary school in England by 2020, providing 'inspirational learning environments'. Acoustic movable walls are playing an increasing fundamental role in these schools and are being built into the basic designs.
Schools and colleges have been concerned by the standard of the movable walls and partitions being specified, not least that the acoustic ratings are appropriate.  Quality is increasingly significant as schools, quite rightly, now consider the complete product life cycle when assessing value. Some have learned the hard way that the cheapest quotation has so often been the poorest value.

Brockhouse are now pioneering partnering agreements, sharing their experience with the contractor, even providing design and technical support in the BSF bidding stage. To help raise industry standards, they have produced a complete 20 point quality checklist to help schools themselves ask the right questions when specifying or purchasing a quality movable wall. This includes tests for endurance, shock impact and thermal insulation, as well as the provision of extended warranties and full service agreements.The full checklist can be downloaded from the schools section of their website.

Movable walls are used in a variety of settings within schools. For example, to separate large sports halls to enable simultaneous events to be staged, or space to be tailored for assemblies and meetings. Dining areas, drama halls and gymnasiums can all be quickly converted from one large space to a number of smaller areas. Smaller dividers and partitions can also transform classroom and study spaces.

The Petchey Academy, Hackney, London

This new Academy specialises in health, care and medical sciences, which opens up career and life opportunities which had not easily been available to young people in this part of east London.  

The five movable walls designed for The Petchey Academy were provided by Brockhouse, a schools specialist who have been producing movable walls for over 50 years. The walls were manufactured in the UK at their own factory.
Brockhouse provided structural engineers with technical information to assist with the design of the structure and help specifying extra steelwork to support the stacking. They also provided expert advice on acoustic performance, to ensure walls complied with the latest regulations set out in the BB93 document and in the ISO 140-3 standard on acoustics in schools.

The special movable curved wall solution included a bespoke design edge profile using a ball and socket joint which provided for acute angles within the headtrack. This enables a smooth curved wall to be formed with self locating stacking operation for easy configuration. The dining side of the divided hall has a bright yellow laminate finish. On the drama hall side, the screen has special sound absorbent board which creates an 'auditoria of acoustic excellence'.  This is important as the Academy plans to form its own orchestras, bands and choirs representing different genres of music.

Four other movable walls at the Petchey Academy provided classroom flexibility. These were standard series 500 high performance movable acoustic walls. They are top hung with no floor track and also offer excellent acoustic insulation.

When asked about the impact of movable walls at the school, staff reported that they are "particularly useful for exam times when different size rooms are required. The movable walls give us choice on the size of room and the high acoustic rating comes into its own. The systems are easy to move and we appreciate the space flexibility".

About Brockhouse:  

Brockhouse are one of the original companies that introduced movable acoustic wall and sliding folding partition systems to the UK over 50 years ago. They have seen the transition from heavy unwieldy panels to the highly technical models of today. Brockhouse have undertaken many prestigious projects around the world and have an impressive client list supporting their claim to be one of the leading suppliers of Movable Acoustic Wall and Sliding Folding Partition Systems in the UK. They are a specialist in PFI projects supporting the BSF programme.

19th September 2005

There are a number of reasons why Brockhouse Modernfold have achieved such a high reputation as a specialist supplier of movable walls and folding, sliding partitions for PFI projects.

Reassuringly, Brockhouse have been producing movable walls for over 50 years and have their own UK based manufacturing facility. This has helped them successfully complete contracts for over 30 major PFI initiatives. The quality of their products has always been ahead of most competitors, with heavy duty mechanisms ensuring long term quality performance. This has proved increasingly significant as clients, quite rightly, now consider the complete product life cycle when assessing value. They have learnt that the cheapest quotation has so often been the poorest value. Brockhouse have developed particular extended PFI warranties and service agreements, which with their UK manufacturing experience, can be delivered. Brockhouse also have testing and certification for all their products. Many competitors are importing poorer quality walls and compound problems with poor service. In the long term they prove to be anything but the cheapest.

Brockhouse are now pioneering partnering agreements, sharing their experience with the contractor, even providing technical support in the PFI bidding stage. Contractors appreciate the benefits to them of continuity and choose Brockhouse again, not least because of their input in terms of value engineering, ensuring that a project is completed profitably.

Architects also appreciate the experience of Brockhouse technical staff who are keen to assist on new and innovative designs and ideas as well as helping with all standard requirements and drawings. They can provide structural engineers with loadings to assist with the design of the structure.

Neil O’Halleran emphasises that “the key is continuity: contractor and supplier working together to make a project successful and profitable. At Brockhouse we value the long term relationships that bring repeat work and where we can add value out of our experience”.

Brockhouse have undertaken many prestigious projects around the world and have an impressive client list supporting their claim to be one of the leading suppliers of Movable Acoustic Wall and Sliding Folding Partition Systems in the UK.

For details on some of the completed PFI projects click on the link below:

Quality Check List When Purchasing or Specifying a Movable Wall

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