City Academy

City Academy is a 1,000 place new build education facility, designed to unite communities with its extended public facilities, external plaza and innovative Cross Laminated Timber crescent form. The acoustics of the open central heart atrium provide an exceptional learning space for pupils and a great space for community use.



  • Norwich, England, UK


  • Kier

Project Status

  • Complete

The flowing curve of the building was designed to connect two local communities to the east and north of the site, generating movement across the site to stimulate community interaction.

A large multi-purpose open atrium was created, with two curving walkways leading to classrooms on the first and second floors. The clever acoustic design of the large central atrium means the space can be used for a range of large events, from dining to orchestral performances to assemblies and lectures.

The acoustics have given the space flexibility and made it a major draw for community users. This has generated an external revenue stream beyond the initial expectations of the Academy and demonstrated the benefits of good acoustics - beyond regulatory compliance and creating suitable speaking and listening conditions for staff and students.

Detailed 3D acoustic modelling accurately predicted the reverberation time and minimised sound focussing, by precise location of acoustic treatment and optimised loudspeaker positioning. We were able to influence the architectural layouts at an early stage in order to control sound transmission from the noise generating central atrium to the main teaching spaces, and between teaching rooms and open breakout zones.

The exposed structural timber required bespoke separating floor and wall build-ups, meaning we achieved good sound insulation within the project cost and zoning envelope. Despite the exposed construction, we achieved additional control of low frequency reverberation in the classrooms, including making it suitable for users with special hearing or communication needs.

The acoustics work was commended in the architectural acoustics category at the ANC Awards 2013.

WSP also provided civil engineering, fire and BREEAM consultancy on the project.