The Basel Music Academy has been one of the leading musical education centers in Switzerland for the past 150 years, with a robust curriculum of composition, performance, and recording programs. Within the academy, the Kleiner Saal has long been a cornerstone of the school’s Early Music ensembles, so when it was decided to architecturally renovate the room alongside other improvements on the campus, the importance of preserving the hall’s history and signature acoustic feel were foremost concerns. Osolin & Plüss Architekten led the renovations, which included the commissioning of a new organ, and the services of WSDG were retained to improve the hall’s sound isolation and A/V components, as well as ensure that the hall maintained the acoustic signature that had been a favorite of its student performers for generations.
The 750m2/115m2 concert hall required extensive sound isolation in order to address noise issues from both outside the building and the adjacent music rooms. In addition to this, noise issues related to the HVAC required extra treatment so that they would not disturb the students. Finally, acoustic treatment was needed in the walls and ceiling that would maintain the existing sound of the room.
The WSDG design team conducted extensive acoustic measurement before and during the construction process in order to determine how best to preserve the room’s acoustic signature and what materials would be required to do so. The team recommended the demolition of the existing, massive concrete wall that supported the hall’s ceiling but also mechanically touched the adjacent practice room. The use of steel studs and special, high density plaster boards in the reconstructed south-east side wall now provides a decoupled inner wall separation. The addition of the sound proofing material and separation of the walls provided a 10dB improvement in isolation.
In addition to this, acoustic materials were used in the reconstructed rear walls, which embraced the original 1956 architecture while preserving the sound and reverberation characteristics of the room.