Grace Academy, Solihull

Grace Academy required a robust solution which also met the demands for acoustic performance. SAS600 rafts were installed throughout the building.

Key features




Grace Academy



Main contractor

Taylor Woodrow Construction

Completion year


System type

SAS600, SAS150

Area M2



United Kingdom

Product Groups

Leading architects BDP’s work on the recently completed Grace Academy, at Solihull in the West Midlands, included the selection of SAS’s advanced SAS600 metal suspended acoustic ceiling rafts. The co-educational City Academy for 11–18 year olds is designed to accommodate over 1,350 pupils.

This environment required a robust solution which also met the demands for acoustic performance, increasingly recognised as an important factor in new school buildings. The absorption performance provided by the ceiling rafts was key to reducing reverberation times, or ‘echo’ in the school, thereby improving the ‘speech intelligibility’ – essential for effective pupil / teacher communication.

In the individual classrooms, laboratory areas, corridors, the Lecture Theatre and the Assembly Hall, acoustic ceiling rafts were chosen. Perforations in the rafts allow sound to travel through to acoustic pads, achieving acoustic absorption. Additionally reflected sound from the open structural soffit is absorbed into the top of the acoustic pads. Luminaires were suspended between the flat rafts to add to the clean, modern look creating a comfortable lighting environment.

In the remaining areas of the building swing down SAS150 tiles were specified. In potential high humidity areas, kitchens and changing rooms, the tiles were painted on both sides to avoid long term water damage. SAS150 is a traditional metal suspended ceiling system with tiles that pivot and slide within the suspension grid providing access to large areas of the ceiling void.

With the exposed concrete slabs between the SAS600 rafts and the open soffit, sustainable natural mass cooling can also be achieved. This ability to moderate temperature is now part of the system that architects BDP is developing for all future schools projects. Increased design flexibility and significant capital and installation savings are some of the benefits of this approach. Max Fawcett of BDP commented: “We recognised that the durability of SAS’s metal system also meant that it provided a more sustainable solution in terms of whole life cycle costs.”

“The washable polyester powder finish on the SAS ceiling systems offers a hygienic, wipe-clean solution, ideal for easy maintenance. Mineral fibre can be more difficult to maintain

– both in terms of being easier to damage or tamper with, and more difficult to clean.”

The new £20m Academy replaced Whitesmore School in Chelmsley Wood, and this provided the opportunity to specify the most modern solutions which BDP has successfully employed.

Systems used