When tasked by my client at the time to build a best-in-class music studio within a typical office space in Covent Garden it was a challenge that excited me and terrified me in equal measure.
I had heard horror stories of studios being built and ripped down within weeks due to the sound leakage which led to very grumpy neighbours.
In order to create a best-in-class music studio or acoustically treated space there is a clear office design process you need to follow but first the client needs to really understand what they are trying to create and then buy in to the process. I met a company who thought they wanted a music studio until they understood the cost and time implications, they then settled on improving an existing room with a limited budget. I’m unsure how it all ended for them, but I would assume not very well.
Step 1– Employ a music studio designer. If your design and build partner are telling you they can design it for you, I would almost be certain this will end up like the horror stories I refer to earlier.
Step 2 – Test! Test the design with an acoustician. We tested the design three times to be sure of the effect the studio would have on the neighbours and the rest of the office.
Step 3– Employ a dedicated studio builder or joinery company. This is specialist work. We worked with an amazing team who I would work with again in a heartbeat. The amount of material and organisation that’s needed is a site to behold.
Step 4 – Ensure the studio designer is under your main contractors’ contract. They will of course charge a management fee but negotiate this to around 7.5% and ensure any miscommunications are on your contractor’s head, not your own.
Step 5 – The devil is in the detail. Ensure your contractor and studio designer have worked with a structural engineer. The amount of material and weight required to really make the space sound proofed needs to be checked by an expert.
Step 6 – Ensure your internal or external project manager has found any gaps on the proposals and your main contractor is happy that everything has been included and covered. Get this confirmation in an e-mail too. Main contractors will usually try and pass the blame down so keep them accountable at all stages.
Step 7 – Photographic evidence. Ensure the studio builder are taking photos as they go showing the insulation prior to enclosed walls and flooring details prior to flooring finishes. Once the flooring is down and walls are closed it is impossible to find where the sound is escaping from.
Step 8 – Allow yourself a time contingency for the studio. The studio depending on the size is likely to take 4-6 weeks longer than your office build due to the amount of materials it takes to create a box in a box in a box in a box!
The studio we built is still standing! Still actively used and something I’m very proud of. If you follow this process you can get the same results.