Thursday, 15 December 2016

What makes a good engineer?

I asked this question around the office and overwhelmingly the one word that kept coming up was "curiosity".  Curiosity, tenacity, a tidy mind and the ability to identify weak areas and challenge them by finding solutions.

This pretty much sums up a review I'd write up of how truly excellent the current BBC2 series of Big Life Fix (with Simon Reeve) is. This programme showcases engineering and inventions and mixes those skills with kindness and empathy. Initially the challenges of everyday life are sought out - and curiosity prompts these to be overcome by seeking out solutions. Of course, having a technical background is integral to the solution, but it's imagination and the ability to think differently that greatly assists and frees these wonderful people.

Watch it, enjoy it and marvel at how clever and compassionate people are. This will and should inspire the next generation of would be engineers and inventors - the world needs these skills and enquiring minds to be used as a force for good.

Friday, 2 December 2016

All in a weeks' work for Josh

·      There are several social media site dedicated to what engineers get up to on a daily basis - here's a week in the working life of Josh, and it seems pretty full on with a great variety of projects.

  • Oxford University Magdalen College – Conversion of squash courts to music studio
·         UCA Farnham – performing arts building – lecture theatres, TV production studios and recording studios – near an RAF base with massive noisy chinook helicopters flying over it on a daily basis.
  • Glastonbury IPRU – a pupil referral unit school with NVB Architects and Midas
  • Hadspen Spa – auralisation of swimming pool – also interesting fact is that the main country manor building that will be converted into a hotel (Stefan is working on that bit) It was won in a bidding war against Johnny Depp who clearly has a penchant for beautiful country manor houses
  • Helped out Beard Construction in Oxford, looking at improving the acoustics in their open plan office – a common problem fairly easy to fix

Friday, 21 October 2016

Magdalen College, Oxford University - squash court to make music

Josh Childs is doing a feasibility study to turn one of the squash courts into a two storey music practice space with Kingshaw M&E and Oliver Architecture - a very good example of using what you have and redeveloping for current demand. The space will work extremely well used for this purpose and will no doubt bring music to the ears of many students.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Passivhaus recognition for MACHs' Max

Passivhaus is the world’s leading fabric first approach to low energy buildings. Following an intensive course of training followed by a 3 hour exam, becoming a certified Passivhaus consultant provides a deep understanding behind the fundamental concepts in making highly energy efficient buildings, from the early design concepts aimed at minimising unnecessary heat loss to the construction stages where detailing and workmanship are essential in ensuring the building performs as well in reality as it does on paper.

MACH Acoustics is pleased to announce that Max Reynolds has now gained this qualification – following his interest in the subject and amassing both academic and practical knowledge. Watch this space for Passivhaus studies and content and how sustainable acoustics can work in harmony with this way of working.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

London Green Register bite size session, Thursday 13th October: Window Design and Acoustics

Find out how to take a green, forward thinking approach to all aspects of building acoustics including window design.

In this bite size session, Ze Nunes, founder of MACH Acoustics, has been invited to present some lessons learned from lecturing & studying at the University of Bath (MSc in Sustainable Architecture and Phd “In the Visualization of Sound”). Ze has recently published two hugely significant books 'Sustainable Acoustics' and 'The Future of Windows'. Signed copies of both books will be available subject to printing dates being achieved.
MACH Acoustics recognises the importance of noise control through window design. Where simple traditional design limits the use of open windows, MACH have now developed a range of unique software tools to help overcome noise break-in in residential buildings, offices and schools to prove that open windows can be used in noisier environments than previously thought.
Ze will demonstrate how to take a green, forward thinking approach to all aspects of building acoustics including window design. Best practice, the latest data, as well as useful ‘sustainable rules of thumb‘ are included in this presentation as well as an introduction into MACH Acoustics’ Web Based Design Tools, showing how best to position a building on site, how to minimise levels of embodied energy and select partitions between rooms. 
Other topics covered include:
·         The importance and ease of Noise Mapping
·         How best to select and design vented facades
·         Overcoming the clashes between acoustics, cross ventilation and heat recovery Performance standards
·         Embodied energy and sound insulation
·         Sustainable ways to control reverberation 
What did delegates say about previous Bite Size sessions?
"The micro session idea is brilliant as full days can be very, very difficult"
"Excellent coverage for both established Green Register members and novices"
"Informed recommendations and some myths debunked"
"Lots of stuff I didn’t know! Enjoyed the interactive format"
All sessions start at 16.45 for registration with training running 17.00 - 19.00.
October 13th, 2016 5:00 PM   to   7:00 PM
Pollard Thomas Edwards
Diespeker Wharf
38 Graham Street
London, N1 8JX

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Bath Abbey Footprint - Women in Property site visit

This fascinating Women in Property September site visit to Bath Abbey explored the £19.3 million capital works, which are set to provide innovative and sustainable solutions to fulfil Bath Abbey’s critical requirements. MACHs' Catherine Adams was lucky enough to get a place on the tour, take it all in and learn a little more.

The project entitled “Footprint” includes stabilisation of the ground beneath the Abbey floor, which is currently in a state of collapse, tapping into Bath’s greatest natural resource to heat the Abbey using energy from the hot springs, installation of energy efficient lighting and storage, all inclusive of internal adaptation and downward excavation to provide a modern, welcoming space and facilities for the Abbey’s local community, choirs and school projects/activities and wider community of the City of Bath.

Project Director Charles Curnock gave an overview of the project, followed by a guided tour of Bath Abbey and its Vaults, where the Norman and Roman excavations exist and where the majority of the works will take place.

Over the summer months MACH Acoustics was privileged to be given access to the Abbey, carrying out acoustic assessments and research. With such a unique space to explore and understand; the MACH team, led by Josh Childs, were able to measure the reverberation time across the space, using this to create a 3D acoustic model as part of the assessment.

The 3D acoustic model for Bath Abbey

The findings of Josh’s report will be presented shortly to Charles and his colleagues and MACH hopes this may go some way in part to assist understanding the demands The Abbey has acoustically for the space to perform to optimum levels and what needs to be done for Footprint.

Friday, 9 September 2016

IOA Annual Conference - MACH Acoustics presents

The annual Institute of Acoustics Conference was held on 5th and 6th September in Kenilworth and MACH Acoustics’ Chris Jones was honoured to be invited to speak and present his paper. Chris has been researching “STANDARDISING THE TESTING AND MODELLING METHODS OF PREDICTING THE SOUND REDUCTION THROUGH OPEN WINDOWS” and this was extremely well received.

The current approach is to simply use a 10 - 15 dB reduction across the open window.  This does not account for the window type, open area or angle of incident sound.  Whilst research has been conducted into these factors, the lack of a standard method of testing, modelling and quantifying the acoustic performance has prevented the uptake of an improved method by acoustic and facade engineers.

This paper builds upon the research of collaboration with MACH Acoustics and The University of Bath - Blanco, Nunes and Lo (2014) and Jones (2015) in summarising the challenges in quantifying the performance by considering existing test methodologies from British Standards and extensive laboratory testing by Napier University (2007). 

The potential of using FEM and FDTD modelling as a tool of visualising and understanding sound propagation through an open window is summarised.  2D FDTD modelling by Jones (2015) has examined the effect of the window variables and the accuracy of simulations by recreating Napier University (2007) test data, before using this to propose the concept of a simple mathematical model.
Visualizing components of sound propagation through an open window

The aim of this paper is not to conclusively recommend a standardised method, but to present existing information and new research in a balanced manner that will inspire a discussion within the acoustics industry as to how such a method might be agreed.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

RHS Hyde Hall, Cullinan Studio

RHS Garden Hyde Hall is a public display garden run by the Royal Horticultural Society in the English county of Essex, east of London, the largest RHS Garden comprising 360 acres. The venue also includes several buildings, and the new to be completed Hilltop Restaurant and Activity Barn will help to create an enticing destination for visitors to RHS Garden Hyde Hall.

To describe the creativity and structure of the scheme, Architects Cullinan Studio says “the design for the Hilltop Restaurant and Activity Barn is characterised by a rigorous and repetitive structural language - a splayed, glue-laminated timber portal frame will march along the loft Restaurant and Activity spaces, intersecting at a delicate nodel point at the apex. The nodel point will simultaneously brace the structure whilst supporting the long cantilevered gables at the southern ends”.  MACH Acoustics is delighted to be supporting with acoustics consultancy. The project is attractive and will no doubt delight many visitors for years to come.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Computational Foundry - Bay Campus, Swansea University

The Computational Foundry is a key building in the new Bay Campus completing the central square of the site. Working with AHR and Willmott Dixon, MACH Acoustics is delighted to be supporting on this important project.

The building is being design to create a hub for Mathematics and Computer Research and to encourage collaboration through designing spaces for interaction, meeting pods and the "research crucible". The Bay Campus enables the University to increase its' footprint  - which pioneers the way for co working collaboration with industry and academics. They will share not only the same site, but also laboratories and facilities.

Friday, 8 July 2016

First Thursday Club, Bristol sponsored by Integral

This excellent networking opportunity for those professional in the construction industry is held monthly as the title implies, at Bristol's Colston Hall. Hosted by various sponsoring companies over a lunch time the event welcomes those from all associated professions - architects, engineers, contractors and has been described as a "leaning in group". Having attended this meeting for a few years now MACH Acoustics would definitely agree. Not only is it a good place to make new contacts, but the benefits from meeting up with like minded people and sharing ideas and knowledge are enormously valued.

Martin Hathaway, Clarkenbond Director and also one of the founding members of the FTC says of the event "Thanks to all friends old and new who join us, it's good to see that the FTC continues to attract movers and shakers in Bristol and the surrounding areas".

This month saw an attendance of over 150 and was sponsored by Integral. After an interesting address the ever popular prize draw took place. MACH Acoustics is pleased to be working currently with Integral on Redcliffe Parade in Bristol and having the opportunity to discuss projects in an informal setting over lunch seems a good way to make work even more enjoyable.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Steiner School scoops first prize at the ANC Awards

Last nights' ANC Awards ceremony saw MACH Acoustics win first prize in the Best Sound Insulation category for the Steiner School. Josh Childs worked on the project and is pictured receiving his well deserved award.

Working with architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Kier as contractor this project was a great team effort. The Steiner School is part refurbishement part new build development which is built using CLT. As CLT is a relatively new construction material, the acoustic information available is limited. To ensure that the proposed performance targets were achieved Josh carried out reviews of laboratory and on site data of various CLT buildings, which was used to calibrate the sound insulation models for each space.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

ANC Awards 2016: MACH makes it to the shortlist

MACH is delighted to be shortlisted by the ANC awards again this year - this time for our work on the Steiner Academy, Frome. Working with architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the main challenge was accommodating a large amount of external CLT in the design, which is known for poor sound insulation.

MACH Acoustics’ Josh Childs is due to talk about his awards entry on the Steiner Academy  in a presentation at the conference before the awards ceremony on the 29th June.

The Steiner Academy is in good company on the shortlist: also in the running for an award is the impressive Swansea University Great Hall – designed by Dr Demetri Porphyrios and incorporates lecture theatres, concert and conference auditoria. This project is at the heart of the community and will serve students, locals and tourists alike.  Environmental vibration Consultant Bickerdike Allen Partners also made it to the shortlist for their work with the British Museum. This world renound museum  has continued to evolve and impress and still provides opportunities for impressive engineering - Lord Foster’s Queen Elizabeth II Great Court glass roof which opened in 2000 remains truly in a class of its' own.

The 2016 Awards Ceremony takes place in the evening of the 29th June in Brimingham.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

University of Bath, Integrated Design Conference

From 30th June to 1st July Bath University will hold the Integrated Design Conference.  This will bring architecture, engineering and construction industries together and will focus on the theme “Building our Future”. This forms part of Bath Universities’ 50th birthday anniversary celebrations, and recognises that in the 60’s, the combined Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering was very much founded on a philosophy of integrated design. During this conference, delegates will be able to enjoy debates and see developments in integrated design – taking account of the past 50 years, bearing witness to the present and also looking to the future.

Speakers will take part from both commercial and academic backgrounds, and the schedule is packed with provoking and challenging topics. MACH Acoustics’ Ze Nunes will speak on Thursday 30th June in the 4-5pm lecture slot. Ze will present with Future of Windows: The Visualisation of Sound and the acoustics performance of open windows. His presentation will explain how heavy duty beautiful maths and engineering combine and translate – using some smart software and proper problem solving.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Performance Network Webinar, with Foster and Partners’ Arpan Bakshi

Ze Nunes has been invited to present a webinar entitled “Visualising Sound to Improve Open Window Performance".  Arpan Bakshi, Performance Evangelist for Foster and Partners spotted Ze’s posts on linked in and found some shared interests. Arpan specialises in sustainability performance and organises the Performance Network.

This online seminar on June 2nd will address energy usage within buildings from ventilation systems and how architects can design for naturally ventilated offices, classrooms and other room types.  How can you treat the sound coming into a building to reduce noise levels? Which window types work better than others? 

Current understanding of the performance of open windows is low, mainly because the acoustics of these buildings is difficult to get to grips with. Here, Ze answers the key questions and helps you to better understand how to treat windows at the design stage - ultimately leading to improved energy usage and more efficient buildings. The visualisation of sound; the acoustic performance of open windows; clever mathematics; incredible software; and our retro toy, the Slinky, all play a part in this forward thinking webinar. 

Date & Time: Thursday June 2, 2016; 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM PDT (UK is 8 hours ahead of Pacific Time). 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Bite Size Session at the Green Register, Bristol: May 12th 2016

The Green Register Bite Size session on Thursday May 12th  in Bristol will see Ze Nunes talk about the Future of Windows. This is open to members and non-members of The Green Register alike and is a great way to get up to date with this important subject without committing to a whole days’ training. In the session Ze will demonstrate how to take a green, forward thinking approach to all aspects of building acoustics including window design. Best practice, the latest data, as well as useful “sustainable rules of thumb” are included in the presentation. For tickets and further information register at: 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Using Sonar for navigation - harnessing the Visualisation of Sound

I was captivated listening to Daniel Kish recently interviewed on Radio 6 on the Lauren Laverne show and how he uses sonar to help him navigate the world as a man without sight - but with a commanding understanding of sound.

At MACH Acoustics the Visualisation of Sound concept has proven extremely helpful in explaining how acoustics work and how sound "behaves". Using sonar for navigation takes this concept out of the classroom and clearly demonstrates how for the majority of us sound as a sense can be developed and appreciated much further.

To listen to Daniel's TED talk click on the link below:

Daniel explains how using this method of navigation with a form of echolocation helps him "construct and understanding of the space around him". An interesting concept for sighted and blind alike - a powerful mix of engineering, physics and interpretation.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

CPD's - Kier reaps rewards of CPD training

 Last week Ze Nunes was invited to talk to Kier in Newbury to deliver a CPD as part of their in house training programme. As in all these situations, having a primed audience who is willing to engage and challenge adds much to the dynamics and learning of the session. Kier didn’t disappoint, and there was plenty of solid discussion. Drawing on shared project collaboration, Ze was able to make reference to several education projects and apply classroom knowledge to completed buildings.

Andy Vernon, Senior Design Manager said of the session: “I set you quite a wide ranging brief and, from the feedback I have had, you managed to provide something for everyone who attended along with setting many of them thinking which was also part of the plan!” Although MACH Acoustics offers set CPD's, , bespoke sessions are also available upon request.

Contractors typically select the modules: Adding Value and Construction Details. Transfering Acoustics Expertise in this way makes for Better Design Solutions. A lack of understanding of acoustic solutions can result in poor design decisions, which are costly and can limit a building’s scope for energy efficiency, performance and appearance. 

If you would like to arrange a CPD for your company please email

Friday, 15 April 2016

New suite of CPDs from MACH Acoustics

Continuing Professional Development, just exactly what's in it for architects, engineers and contractors to give up their lunch hours and pitch up to a talk? What could possibly be more appealing that leafing through the latest Architects Journal or Construction line and sitting at your desk for yet another hour!

Arguably most CPDs are just an excuse for companies to showcase their services or wares, but at MACH Acoustics they are treated more like an educational seminar and challenging questions and engagement are encouraged, Here's what Gardiner and Theobald had to say of a recent CPD:

"I think you pitched the talk just right - feedback from the team was very positive, and I think everyone has taken away some useful new knowledge. The session has made us realise that there may be a lot of added value from considered and timely acoustic advice that we are not always seeking early enough on our projects."

With content and topics pitched to appeal to both architects and contractors,  companies are welcome to select their own CPD or take advice from MACH.

 Click on the link below to access the brochure and see all the different CPDs currently offered and get in touch if you are interested in booking one.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

TED Talks UWE, The Innovative Attitude - The Challenges of Being too Clever

TED talks, always inspiring to listen to, and here's Ze's from MACH Acoustics, presented in the series of The Innovative Attitude back in January 2016. He entitled it "The Challenges of Being too Clever" and as well as providing an insight into what it's actually like to identify a problem area, research and find solutions, this talk explains what it's like in practise to get your idea across to an audience of architects, contractors and engineers who up until now had no idea that their challenges could just be overcome. 

This presentation gives a snap shot of MACH's CPD style too - heavy enough on the engineering whilst being accessible to those who need and want to understand acoustics but who don't specialise in it. It makes us start appreciating sounds, environments and how much we take our hearing for granted without paying it that much attention. It also explains how we hear things and how this affects us in our work and non working lives - ears and sound have a big part to play in our well being.

Click on the link below to play the talk (not the image above).

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Bristol Grammar School - new Performing Arts Centre inspires students

Following on from MACH Acoustics’ involvement with Bristol Grammar Schools Performing Arts Centre, Max Reynolds was invited to speak at a workshop at the school featuring this interesting project . The workshop saw participation from students, parents and industry professionals alike and the collaboration made it a special event – how inspiring for the 6th formers to hear first hand about how their very own performing arts centre came to being!

Note from this image the challenges of noise pollution coming from numerous sources

And from this image, the plan of the site and the orientation of the building

The new design of the space was the main theme, and their careers talk drew on these translatable life skills – encompassing all disciplines used in the construction industry. Max went on to give some insights into his own career as an acoustic consultant and no doubt in a few years to come MACH Acoustics will be able to gain from the new generation of enthused acousticians and engineers.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Green Register Bite Size Session - The Future of Windows

Bite-Size Session: The Future of Windows - a sustainable approach to acoustic design - Bristol

Find out how to take a green, forward thinking approach to all aspects of building acoustics including window design - this talk takes place on May 12th in Bristol and has been commissioned by the Green Register. 
In this bite size session, Ze Nunes, founder of Bristol based MACH Acoustics will present some lessons learned from lecturing & studying at the University of Bath (MSc in Sustainable Architecture and Phd “In the Visualisation of Sound”). Ze has recently published two hugely significant books 'Sustainable Acoustics' and 'The Future of Windows'. Signed copies of both books will be available subject to printing dates being achieved.
Ze will demonstrate how to take a green, forward thinking approach to all aspects of building acoustics including window design. Best practice, the latest data, as well as useful ‘sustainable rules of thumb‘ are included in this presentation as well as an introduction into MACH Acoustics’ Web Based Design Tools, showing how best to position a building on site, how to minimise levels of embodied energy and select partitions between rooms. 
Other topics covered include:
·         The importance and ease of Noise Mapping
·         How best to select and design vented facades
·         Overcoming the clashes between acoustics, cross ventilation and heat recovery Performance standards
·         Embodied energy and sound insulation
·         Sustainable ways to control reverberation 
What did delegates say about previous Bite Size sessions?
"The micro session idea is brilliant as full days can be very, very difficult"
"Excellent coverage for both established Green Register members and novices"
"Informed recommendations and some myths debunked"
"Lots of stuff I didn’t know! Enjoyed the interactive format"

May 12th, 2016 5:00 PM   to   7:00 PM
The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer
17-18 King Street
Bristol, BST BS1 4EF
United Kingdom

Click here for further information and how to book a place:

Friday, 11 March 2016

Civic Trust Awards Win for Brighton College, Boarding House

A win in the Civic Trust Awards for the Boading House, this project provides new boarding accommodation as part of a building programme to improve facilities for Brighton College pupils. The self-contained three and four-storey boarding house adjacent to the Grade II listed Dawson House forms a new eastern edge to the campus and completes the quadrangle envisaged by Thomas Graham Jackson in 1884. 

The building contains a mix of school facilities for the College’s own use, related to student and staff accommodation and pastoral care. Designed to be clearly contemporary in construction detail but contextual in material, massing and form, interconnected double height spaces create a surprising internal spatial arrangement in contrast to the regular rhythm of the facades expressing the bedroom modules. Inspired by its Venetian Gothic neighbours, the new facade design of the Boarding House is composed in layers. The solid inner leaf of the external walls, with its window apertures, provides the structural and environmental enclosure; this is the ‘modern functional building’. A relatively thin outer layer comprises the masonry layer cladding of either flint or brickwork. A filigree of fine metalwork linings, like the terracotta (or stone) mullions of the 19th Century windows, partially conceals the window frames and vent panels.

Ze Nunes, Director of MACH Acoustics says of the architect "it's always a pleasure supporting Allies and Morrison, we find them engaging to work with and as usual they create something truly impressive."

Friday, 4 March 2016

Childs' play "Slinky" teaches us Sound Visualisation

The Slinky (toy) has helped MACH Acoustics visualise sound which, ultimately, has enabled us to explain why one window type behaves differently to another.

One of the reasons why we see so few genuinely low carbon buildings is because hugely complex acoustics are involved in creating these buildings. In addition, design teams do not instinctively bring acoustics into the mix when planning ventilation and it is an area often overlooked. However, getting to grips with this element of building design is critical. At MACH we have used FDTD mathematics to create some incredible software that enables us to visualise sound. We believe that being able to visualise sound will facilitate better understanding of the complexities associated with the acoustic design of say, a window. More importantly however, design teams will intuitively grasp the importance of key design changes, leading to the whole team providing better, more sustainable buildings. Now a fairly cool ‘retro’ toy, the Slinky has been our inspiration in visualising sound waves. 

One of the problems with the above model is that there are few Slinkies involved and so information is minimal. It isn’t viable to tie hundreds of these units together to provide a more representative way in which sound travels around the ventilation systems of low carbon buildings -  so we turned to mathematics to create a more representative wave model. 

The image above shows how this model has been formed. The dots represent the movement along the Slinky that have been tied together with a string of differential equations, (see red connection points).  This allows for a similar Slinky model to be formed.

However, this is still a 1D model as the dots only move in a line, and the image is pixelated.  So we have added transversal differential equations between each of the cells/dots, and increased the number of cells by a factor of around 1,000.  The results are amazing.

The above model clearly shows the propagation of sound in 2D (please note we also now have a 3D model) and the effects of this wave reflecting off a structure. The most important aspect of this model is that it demonstrates how sound bends around this object.  This bending, known as diffraction, is the reason why we often hear a sound source that we cannot see.  Diffraction is possibly the most critical component in understanding the passage of sound through open windows.

Thanks to the Slinky, we are able to illustrate how sound behaves, and show you how different window types effect the acoustic performance of a building. Demonstrating why one window type behaves differently to another is a giant step towards understanding the powerful link between acoustics and low carbon building design. Maths, physics and playing with toys give us all the answers - more beautiful buildings await.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Sustainability - time for a deeper understanding

We all use the word "Sustainable" but is our general over use of the on trend word more of a hindrance now to those who truly practise what we preach - and do we really understand it in it's purest concept? Max Reynolds explains:

There are many different ways of defining sustainable and it is been said that there are over 200 definitions of sustainable development alone.

The United Nations in 1987 described sustainable development as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” and this perhaps outlines what it should mean to us within the construction industry.

A common model for understanding sustainability is the “three pillars model” which was first introduced during the 2005 World summit on social development as a way of visualising the key components of sustainable development. This is a useful image as it provides us with a clear visualisation of the balancing required and that for truly sustainable development we need to address all three.

Three Pillars Of Sustainability

Whilst the three-pillar model is a useful tool for simplifying and visualising sustainability, it is slightly misleading in that it implies that the weighting between the pillars is equal, but as environmental ecologist Herman Daly sates “What use is a sawmill without a forest”.

The environmental component should be the main focus as everything else depends upon the environment. Similarly economic issues are a sub-component of social issues, so economic sits within the social component. Therefore we should consider adopting an updated approach to this model in the form of the “egg of sustainability” - see diagram below


Buildings should be focussing on minimising their negative environmental impact and it is up to us as designers to find solutions that work socially and economically.

Making sustainable solutions work socially revolves around opening people’s minds to new ideas and approaches. As humans, we are naturally sceptical and resistant to change, but this is the stage that we are currently at as the word “sustainable” is becoming more of a “buzz word” and the increasing global awareness is a key driver. A perfect example of that demonstrates we are on the right path is the recent Paris climate change agreement.

In addressing the environmental and social aspects of sustainability, one would hope this would be sufficient to address any economic issues associated with sustainable buildings, by reshaping the way we approach building design, by finding simple solutions that are economically viable.

As designers we have a key role to play in our journey down this road and it is down to us to be the driving force behind new ways of thinking and challenging traditional approaches because as Robert Swan so eloquently put it “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Bath University "The Hive" plays a part in The Future of Windows

The HIVE is a £1 million ground-breaking building project designed to support research into construction materials and is the first building project being developed at the Building Research Park. A University of Bath initiative, the HIVE is a natural coupling for MACH Acoustics to work hand in hand with as MACH exploors and progresses its work on The Future of Windows.

Over the past months Andrew, Ze, Yang from MACH have investigated various facades and window configurations, taken measurements and surveys and used this for their research. As Andrew says of this recent work: “Without this real life situation to investigate bold concepts in a cost effective manor we would not be able to validate our new façade modelling techniques. This will in the future provide the confidence to our clients that we can provide a fast evolving and robust façade scheme design such to incorporate natural ventilation into more buildings on noisy sites”.

For further information about The Hive use the following link:

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Bristol Hum - BBC on the case again

The decades-long search for the Bristol Hum

The Bristol Hum - a mysterious low-level noise that only some in the city can hear – is back in the headlines on the BBC. But did it ever go away? As far back as April 1980, Bristol’s environmental health officers were using noise monitoring equipment to try to track down the source. More than 100 complaints were logged, according to the archive from April 1980 and the BBC Points West records.

Now in the latest flury of interest, the BBC has been able to uncover further explanations, including one from MACH Acoustics' Director Ze Nunes - who tells us hearing can be subjective and not a black and white matter.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Why architects need to use their ears: TED Talk by Julian Treasure

At MACH Acoustics this is just the kind of talk we're interested in - Julian's phenomenal TED Talk in 2012 was well received with architects, contractor and engineers alike.

"Because of poor acoustics, students in classrooms miss 50 percent of what their teachers say and patients in hospitals have trouble sleeping because they continually feel stressed". Julian Treasure sounds a call to action for designers to pay attention to the “invisible architecture” of sound.

Please enjoy this talk for yourselves:

Arch Daily wrote about this presentation, "In architecture we talk about space and form. We talk about experience and meaning.  All of these qualities are inextricably the sensory experience of light, touch, smell and sound.  Sound expert Julian Treasure asks architects to consider designing for our ears, citing that the quality of the acoustics of a space affect us physiologically, socially, psychologically and behaviourally".

MACH's Ze Nunes will give a talk on Saturday 23rd January as part of the UWE Bristol series this year. Taking "The Challenges of Being Too Clever" as a title and featuring The Future of Windows he will explore how reasearch has led his innovative mind to this new way of working and overcoming age old acoustic challenges with clever engineering and brutal maths. See the previous blog entry for further information.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

TED Talk, UWE: The Challenges of Being Too Clever

TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment and Design) are coming to UWE, Bristol on 23rd January. This latest exciting series will take "The Innovative Attitude" for the theme and will include 9 speakers. MACH Acoustics' Ze Nunes has been invited, and the title of his talk is "The Challenges of Being too Clever. MACH Acoustics has close ties with UWE  - some employees are UWE graduates, some came for placement and stayed on for employment, so it's a great honour to be invited to talk on home turf - Bristol is a progressive city rich in engineering history of many disciplines.
So, Sustainable acoustics, natural ventilation, acoustic analysis, value engineering, low energy buildings, window design and sound reduction - all part of MACH's latest publication of "The Future of Windows", but if you invent something new like this how do you get it across and where do you go with marketing this innovation? Can you be too clever?
Up until now the concept of natural ventilation and openable windows without noise polluting in was something of an engineering no-no. Ze likes to say yes to engineering challenges and overcomes them using science and complex brutal maths but delivers this to the client within their intended design.
Sustainable acoustics benefits both the end user of the building with natural ventilation and also has much wider positive implications for the environment and this is the message that needs to be communicated.
To enjoy this talk and others, tickets are now on sale for £10 - which includes lunch and drinks throughout the day. These tickets can be purchased on the entrepreneurial society page:
If you want to be kept updated on the event, speakers and tickets, follow the link below and like the TEDx UWE page: E/?fref=ts