We have just picked up a “Highly Commended” award from the Association of Noise Consultants. Recognised in the category of Building Acoustics, Ian Rees and George Moore worked on the careful renovation of The Orangery at Kew Gardens. It is a pleasure to receive praise for how well the project worked out.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is listed as one of London’s four UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The stunning gardens feature geometric designs and impressive glasshouses, along with other historic and contemporary buildings.
One of the architectural gems is The Orangery. Designed by Sir William Chambers and built in 1761, it is admired as one of the finest buildings of its type.
The Orangery, located in the entrance zone
This beautifully proportioned space has served many functions over the centuries. Once used as a Timber Museum, it later became an exhibition area and a bookshop. For the last 20 years is has been home to a restaurant, serving millions of visitors. In the evenings it can host dinner dances, wedding parties and other events.
The high ceiling, grand arched windows and renaissance statues all combine to make this Grade I-listed building an elegant space. However, there are many hard surfaces which present acoustic challenges, especially when the building is full of people engaged in conversation.
Completed interior (photo: Acanthus Clews/Andy Marshall)
In 2001, we were asked to improve the acoustics of the building and our recommendations included fabric wall hangings.
When in 2023 the Orangery was scheduled to undergo further restoration, architects Acanthus Clews called on us once again to enhance the acoustics.
When offering expert advice on a building such as this, we knew that further acoustic improvements would need to be heard but not seen. Such a building of national importance demanded a carefully considered solution.
Project Manager Ian Rees recommended that special acoustic plaster from Ecophon would be applied to the ceiling. Inset wall panels were carefully located within arched recesses, which were then hand-painted with latticework decoration. Acoustics Consultant George Moore carried out a series of sound tests at the site and computer modelling ensured that the result would work.
Acoustics Consultant George Moore onsite
The Orangery’s latest phase of restoration was completed in June 2023, and the public are once again able to enjoy a greatly improved ambience.
As with so many examples of our work, you may not be able to see the improvements we recommended, but the results are plain to hear.
Evidence of a previous restoration
If you have a project which requires experience in managing the acoustics of historical buildings, please call us on 01603 721511 to discuss the options available.