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The Hallé Orchestra – Silenced by Selectaglaze!

22 May 2014

After years of decay a refurbishment of the former St. Peter’s Church has brought this historic Victorian Grade 2 Listed building back to life.

Located in Ancoats, a part of Manchester widely regarded as the world’s first industrial suburb and an historic feature of the city’s heritage, St. Peter’s is now fully operational as the home for the world renowned Hallé Orchestra and its associated Choirs. It also marks the first time the Orchestra has had a permanent rehearsal venue in its 156 year history. The refurbished church also provides facilities for small orchestral and choral public performances.

Over the years the appearance of the building has remained substantially unaltered, both inside and out. However, sound tests revealed a problem internally with the clarity in the rehearsal space and potential noise outbreak. Acousticians Sound Space Design proposed treatments to remedy these problems that were non-invasive and with no material effect on the building fabric.

The lack of clarity within the church was affecting the members of the Orchestra’s ability to hear each other and play in ensemble. The solution was to provide sound reflecting surfaces close to the Orchestra, below the high nave ceiling of the church and to reduce the reverberation of the space to an appropriate level. Sound reflecting “Sound Sails” were installed within the space using a series of pulleys, with no fixings to the structure, hence leaving the building as it was found.

Control of noise is not only an “internal” issue. While the acoustics of a building and keeping the sound of the outside world at bay are essential to a performance venue, the effect of a “concert” on the local residents must also be taken into account. Excessive noise can be a contentious issue especially to those living or working in the vicinity of a music venue, adversely affecting health, wellbeing and concentration. Operators of such venues are obliged as part of a license to address issues of noise breakout but this can be particularly problematic with older buildings where ill fitting windows tend to be the norm.

Most single glazed windows reduce noise ingress and egress by just 25-30dB, less if they are ill fitting. Even modern double glazed windows only achieve 30-35dB. However, a very practical solution is found with Selectaglaze’s secondary glazing systems, which can provide noise reduction up to 50dB. This is a reversible adaptation and therefore in most cases acceptable to heritage planning officers

Selectaglaze treated a total of 44 large round head windows and one three metre diameter circular feature window using a total of 109 secondary window frames. Hinged casements were specified to all locations apart from the half round window heads and circular window which were treated with shaped fixed panels. The casements were fitted with high performance compression seals, flush hinges, multipoint locking and installed with a 150mm cavity to the primary window to ensure the tightest fit and the optimum noise insulation. All frames aligned with the existing sight lines and had an attractive matt grey finish.

In addition to noise insulation secondary glazing also cuts heat loss. This together with effective frame seals serves to reduce convection currents and so provide a more comfortable performance space. 

The installation was a challenge due to the size and height of the windows and Selectaglaze worked closely with the contractor, City Build, delivering fully fabricated frames that could be rapidly installed from the access scaffolds.

Established in 1966 and a Royal Warrant holder since 2004 Selectaglaze is the UK’s leading designer, manufacturer and installer of secondary glazing. This is used in all types of building but is particularly appropriate for traditional and listed properties.

Selectaglaze produces guidance notes covering Noise Insulation, Energy Saving and Security and a comprehensive Product Guide. A technical advisory service and RIBA approved CPD Seminar are also available to Architects, Building Surveyors and Interior Designers.

For further information, please contact the Marketing Department on 01727 837271; e-mail: or visit the company’s comprehensive website at:

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