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Ōtaki Pool – a baffling project for Forman

Ōtaki Pool – a baffling project for Forman

Forman Building Systems have executed the first New Zealand installation of Stratocell® Whisper™ acoustic panels hung as baffle as part of a $5.4 million redevelopment at Ōtaki Pool in December. 

Alison Law, Parks and Recreation Manager at the Kapiti Coast District Council says poor acoustics in the old building had been an ongoing complaint. “It’s very important to have noise reduction in a swimming pool, it makes it a much more pleasant environment for swimmers and spectators. It also means that our customers are safer as they can hear directions from lifeguards and instructors,” she says.

Steve Tobin, Business Development Manager at Forman says there was a real collaborative approach between Forman, Crowe Construction & Associates Ltd (CC&A), Architecture HDT Ltd (HDT) and Sealed Air to ensure the best possible solution for the client. This resulted in exploring the use of Stratocell® Whisper™ which is manufactured from moisture resistant materials so doesn’t require a moisture barrier and will resist damage from treated pool water. “This makes it an incredibly cost effective, long lasting solution for absorbing noise in indoor pools and high humidity environments,” he says.

The initial design was to attach the Stratocell® Whisper™ panel direct to secondary timber framing members. The hanging acoustic baffle option provided some time and cost advantages due to not requiring a secondary support structure (for a ceiling panel arrangement) with the added benefit of both sides of the panel and the exposed perimeter being available for noise absorption.

Andrew Wheatley, Senior Architect at HDT says various products were looked at in an attempt to save cost and time, but the ceiling option always came back to the support system and what people were used to in terms of spanning capabilities, panels not sagging and issues from ball impact. “The ceiling was not required for decorative purposes, purely acoustic performance. Sealed Air and Forman changed their approach and the Whisper panels were offered as hung baffles. Some examples were shown with good acoustic results, and it then came down to finding the best way to hang the baffles in an aesthetically pleasing manner,” he says.

HDT are experts in aquatic facilities and the technical and environmental challenges which come with this type of project. “As with any pool, the products used need to perform well in a very humid environment while remaining stable and not degrading from moisture related issues or from impact from ball sports,” he says. “Having a product that is also extremely lightweight meant that the support could be fairly minimal and putting less load on the main structure.”

Sealed Air investigated how Whisper had been installed in pools globally and then worked on the design of a cork screw fitting that screwed into the edge of the Whisper. This was incorporated with an ABS Channel that gave the basis of a baffle that could be hung from a cable attached between purlins. “Things like the quality of stainless steel used had to be considered along with coating the cork screws with a plastic coating to avoid tea staining caused by the environment that comes from within a pool,” says Steve.

The pool officially opened on 15th December with a family fun day the following day. “We are extremely happy with the transformation,” says Alison. “The new pool building, combined with the splash pad will be a huge asset for the local community for many years to come.”