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Repercussions Of Refurbishment

Part 1 Dissertation 2001
Kate Naylor
University of Liverpool | UK
The repercussions of the Royal Philharmonic Hall’s modifications, which is a grade II* listed building will be seen, felt and heard for many years to come. Devoted disciples of the original hall may at first be concerned to read such a declaration but that is what Architects, Brock Carmichael Associates and Acoustic Consultant, Kirkegaard intended to achieve when they set out to upgrade a local piece of Liverpool’s architectural heritage bringing it functionally into the 21st century.

The following dissertation examines: the extent of refurbishment undertaken to the auditorium, why it was thought necessary, the performance criteria and reviews the achieved level of acoustic improvement. To provide under pinning information it was necessary to attend performances and inspect the premises when not in use. Discussions have also taken place with the Architects to confirm construction details of their refurbishment design including structural modifications. The Philharmonic Hall’s performance for use as a concert hall is examined in detail and compared with the demands of acoustic theory.

The dissertation demonstrates that the modifications and the refurbishment have stayed loyal to Rowse’s original design concept. To examine acoustic performance the auditorium was modelled in AutoCAD 2000 and Studio Max 3 then analysed using RAYNOISE Rev. 3.0. to determine acoustic performance. The results of these investigations concur broadly with those of Kirkegaard.


Bagenal, H. & Wood, A, Planning for Good Acoustics, Methuen, London, 1931.

Beranek, Leo L, Music Acoustics & Architecture, Whiley, New York, 1962.

Barron, Michael, Auditorium Acoustics and Architectural Design, Spon, London, 1993.

Rowse, Herbert James, The Builder: The New Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 7th July 1939.

Somerville, T, BBC Quarterly, April 1949.

Kate Naylor

When Kate chose to prepare a dissertation on some aspect of performance spaces an obvious vehicle was the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall which had just undergone major refurbishment. Kate researched the early history of the Phil and has produced a delightfully clear account the events leading up to the refurbishment programme and the objectives of that programme. What gives the dissertation its special character, however, is the progression from the descriptive early sections to the later, equally readable, technical sections which deal with an assessment of the acoustical performance of the hall.

One of the main objectives of the refurbishment was to improve the acoustics of the hall and this involved the renowned American acoustical consulting firm of Kirkegaarde Associates who proposed a number of measures which could be applied without detriment to the listed interior. With the aid of Liverpool Architects, Brock Carmichael, Kate was able to assemble sufficient data to enable the construction of a 3 D computer model of the hall suitable for use with a sophisticated acoustical modelling package. Kate has skilfully employed this software to investigate the acoustics of the Philharmonic Hall.

What gives this dissertation its special flavour is the combination of an historical appraisal coupled with an advanced technical study using state of the art software, both sections being written in a delightful style which holds the reader at all times.

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