Woolwich Works – Building 41

2022 Woolwich Works Building 41

▷ Year: Ongoing
▷ Location: London, UK
▷ Client: Woolwich Works – Building 41 (Cartridge Factory)
▷ Architect: Bennetts Associates Architects

Our first visit to the Cartridge Hall revealed a huge industrial space with a timber/glazed roof supported by cast iron columns on a heavy concrete floor.

Its enormous volume and reverberant acoustic suggested that it could make a very good, if unconventional, concert and multipurpose space.

The computer model was made, with various audience numbers and configurations.

With an audience of 1200, in an end stage configuration, we achieved a very good concert acoustic, with all the required parameters. Modelling with smaller audiences (600 and 300) in different formats showed that extra absorption would be needed. We designed large, rollable acoustic screens, with an absorptive side and a reflective side. These gave us the variability that we needed and could be stored safely at the hall perimeter.

The possibilities for use of the hall were revealed – classical and choral concerts with the largest orchestras and choirs , chamber concerts, early and renaissance music recitals, opera, cabaret, folk, jazz, dance, world music with amplification, recording, farmers markets, exhibitions and banquets – a truly multipurpose space.

The auralisation of the model in Brixton, attended by David Whelton, Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra, showed that all the proposed orchestral configurations would be successful, using 16 screens.

Two other challenges became apparent. Surround by new, high residential buildings on two sides at 60m, performance sound breakout and breakin of noise from the City Airport would need to be successfully addressed.

A CadnaA noise model was made using a 3D architectural model of the site. Several long term background noise measurements were made and built into the model. Using the maximum sound level created by a 100 piece orchestra in the model, it was possible to quantify the acoustic insulation needed for the roof and walls.

Suitable upgrades were designed and are currently being installed.

A test concert with the Aurora Orchestra showed that the hall would fulfil its promises.