Case Study

Building a welcoming environment at state-of-the-art discovery centre - The Sill

We worked closely alongside JDDK Architects to specify high-quality fire and acoustic solutions for The Sill's National Landscape Discovery Centre and youth hostel.

A state-of-the-art discovery centre

The Sill is an exciting £14.8 million project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund. It incorporates the UK’s National Landscape Discovery Centre and a YHA Youth Hostel, located in the uniquely-named Twice Brewed village, in Northumberland.

Opened in the summer of 2017, The Sill project aims to give people of all ages and circumstances the opportunity to understand and explore the landscapes, history, culture and heritage of Northumberland. The adjoining youth hostel has also been designed to provide accommodation for young people visiting the attraction.

High-quality solutions for a tricky space

Architect Matthew Holmes, of JDDK Architects, specified the range of British Gypsum products used on the project. Matthew explained: “We had some issues with the design of the building and the ceiling, but fortunately these challenges were swiftly addressed by British Gypsum’s technical team. The ceiling not only needed to be aesthetically pleasing, it also had to achieve high levels of acoustic performance, as well as fitting within the main roof slope. During the design process, it became apparent that we needed a solution that provided appropriate reverberation times within these spaces, control the noise levels and speech quality and ultimately, improve the end users’ experience. This is because the building will have many people visiting the centre on a daily basis.

“The original design incorporated a Gyproc MF ceiling with acoustic baffles hung below, but when we looked at it in relation to the exposed M&E details within the café space, we found that this wouldn’t work. However, the awkward shape of the room and distribution of the columns, lights and ducts were easily accommodated using Gyptone Quattro board, by using the perforated design in the Quattro board. This achieved the acoustic requirements and also added a nice architectural finish with its geometric design.”

Another requirement of the project was to ensure that the finishes to the block work wall were robust, durable, easy to repair and aided the acoustic performance of the building.  With this in mind, we advised JDDK Architects to finish the walls with a Thistle two-coat plaster. Thistle HardWall was applied as a basecoat with the versatile and hard-wearing Thistle MultiFinish on top.

The project also needed structural steel fire protection, and to ensure acoustic performance was not lost where this formed part of a partition. Our Glasroc F FireCase was used at the head of the walls to deliver a compact solution that allowed acoustic performance to be maintained. This solution also allowed the build programme to progress quickly and efficiently. It could be installed prior to the external envelope being erected thanks to the Glasroc F FireCase board having a high moisture resistance, making it suitable for semi-exposed environments. The innovative frameless system also minimises the space required to provide fire protection to structural steel and provides fire protection for 30 to 120 minutes.

Matthew concluded: “We have a brilliant working relationship with British Gypsum and we always specify a number of its products on our projects, because of the detailed library of high-quality solutions available and the second-to-none technical support it provides. British Gypsum helped us to find fire and acoustic solutions suitable for this complex project and our client is delighted with the final result.”

We care about building better.


Project name
The Sill Discovery Centre
Building type