The Atrium, North Walsham

The Atrium is a government-funded “co-location” project to improve arts facilities for students during school hours, along with making these amenities available for use by the wider community at other times. The project transformed an existing site at North Walsham High School by adding a new space, including a 170-seat auditorium. This cinema / theatre sits alongside music practice rooms, a dance studio, a food technology suite, a cafe and a creche area.

The Atrium facade at North Walsham High School

Adrian James Acoustics was brought in at a very early stage of the plans. This allowed us to provide essential input to the contents, dimensions and possible layouts of the performing arts centre. Computer modelling enabled us to test a multitude of options in a virtual environment, resulting in a very cost effective and unusual acoustic design. The dance studio posed particular challenges as it has a very large glazed area and is located on the first floor of the building.

With so many diverse facilities on offer, The Atrium required a careful choice of sound insulation, such as between the dance studio, cafe and the creche. Our work included design and specification of floating floors, isolated ceilings and high performance doors, partitions and glazing. A critical challenge was designing the music suite facade to insulate against existing plant noise from the adjacent kitchen roof.

The Atrium auditorium

Opened in 2011, the building has received universal acclaim. It has fulfilled many roles, in particular as a community cinema and the school’s performing arts centre.