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Acoustics - National University Cultural Centre

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Situated at the fringes of the National University of Singapore (NUS) campus on Kent Ridge Crescent, the University Cultural Centre (UCC) acts as a window to the world of the performing arts. Part of the university’s cultural cluster, the UCC enriches the campus experience by inspiring creative expression and fostering artistic collaboration.


Established in 2001, the performing arts hub is run by the NUS Centre for the Arts and stages a wide variety of events throughout the year. Playing host to both student-led and professional theatre, dance and music productions, it is also a venue for the university’s graduation ceremonies, conferences and even state occasions


About 200,000 people including performers and guests go through its doors each year. With the UCC seeing heavy usage, it was time for it to revamp itself in order to continue providing an enhanced experience to performers, guests, students and the public.


The UCC underwent a long-overdue six-month facelift before welcoming visitors again in March 2018. The S$20 million renovation involved enlarging the lobby and back areas, improving common spaces and upgrading the performance areas.


The design brief needed to meet several objectives: to improve comfort and accessibility, enhance the quality of sound, boost viewing angles and reduce energy consumption.


The refurbishment of the 1,700-seater UCC Hall, which can house live performances seminars and ceremonial events, involved installing new seating and flooring, upgrading its technical production infrastructure, lighting, air conditioning and other guest amenities.


Meanwhile, new infrastructure - including an extendable stage, retractable seating and a retractable orchestra pit - was installed in the more intimate, mid-sized 400-seater UCC Theatre. This provided greater flexibility in customising performing spaces. The theatre also enjoyed new lighting and air conditioning, as well as upgraded technical production systems.


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The renovation was extended to ancillary spaces to enhance accessibility and comfort. This included expanding the porch area, installing a sweeping stairway to connect the first to levels at the west side of the foyer, and building covered walkways to link the theatre’s backstage and hall.


The UCC’s makeover also added a new, 400sqm multi-purpose atrium space to the arts complex with a 120 seated or 220 standing capacity. It was built in an under-used concrete courtyard between the UCC Hall and the UCC Theatre and looks out onto a grass lawn.


Allowing daylight to stream in, the floor-to-ceiling glass panels in the atrium blurs visual boundaries and gives the impression of a more fluid contemporary space. Ideal for screenings, exhibitions and seated dinners, the space can act as an extension of the foyer or as a standalone space for more intimate gatherings.


The remodeling of the UCC has created more spacious and comfortable holding areas for guests, leading to better crowd control and visitor flow


However, in the expanded lobby, rear extension and newly-built atrium, the high ceiling, long corridors and enlarged foyer space posed acoustic challenges - these spaces can be cacophonous when large crowds are present. While floor-to-ceiling glass panels give a sense of volume and lend a majestic visual appeal, the sound-reflecting surfaces can also contribute to echo interference.


For the designers and architects, it was essential to weave a seamless acoustical system into the design of these sizeable spaces. They needed to find that “sweet spot” between maintaining a lively atmosphere while also controlling the build-up of noise so that conversations could still flow easily without the need for guests to raise their voices to be heard. Sto was able to propose a suitable acoustic system that would improve sound quality and reduce echoes in those areas.


To absorb background noise and minimise reverberations, a seamless acoustic ceiling at a three-storey height, was built in the lobby, rear extension and the atrium using StoSilent Distance 110 panels made from sound-absorbing material.


Covering a total area of 1,982m2, the panels were able to dampen reverberations, mask the transmitted noises emanating from the crowds below and control the overall acoustics of the enlarged space.


The panels were treated with StoSilent Décor M finish. Sprayed onto the panels using a special application technique, the sound-permeable silicate acoustic coating blended harmoniously with the ceiling design which was intentionally kept simple.


The StoSilent Distance solution was chosen because it was also easy to install. In the areas that had extensive glass walls, the panels could be cut and shaped so they could be fixed in the direction where the joint line was the least visible. Installation works ran from October 2017 to February 2018.


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Sto worked closely with the main contractor Gennal Industries Pte Ltd – also a regular contract for NUS projects – to design and install the StoSilent acoustics system for the common spaces in the UCC. The close teamwork has been paramount to delivering quality sound absorptive finishes to those lively spaces.


Sto’s seamless acoustic systems, which can be adapted to the unique acoustical personality of each individual space, were the perfect solution for UCC’s common space needs.


The UCC’s transformation is in line with its vision of providing a “vibrant space for everyone to experience the arts.” With its more welcoming and open common spaces, upgraded performing areas and sleeker design, the arts centre is indeed making the arts more inclusive.

Project details

Applicator : Prestige Wall & Deco Pte Ltd

Architect : Forum Architect

Main Contractor : Gennal Industries Pte Ltd

Products used : StoSilent Distance & StoSilent Décor M

Area of application : 1,982m2

Project duration : Oct 2017 to Feb 2018


Product focus : StoSilent Distance

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It's hard to imagine modern architecture without large, even, white surfaces. The StoSilent Distance board system allows the seamless and soundabsorbing design of walls and ceilings, which have to be suspended, for example, to reduce the room height. The room concept is thus retained with good acoustics included.

Benefits of StoSilent Distance

  • - Seamless installation of up to 200m2
    - Suitable to a limited extent for curved surfaces and vaults
    - Suitable for rooms exposed to moisture,depending on system version
    - Conceals main utilities
    - Perfusion safe
    - Low weight