J&C Joel have designed, manufactured, and fitted 42 acoustic elements into the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall, one of London’s most iconic Modernist buildings.

The project includes the supply of four concertina banners and 38 acoustic roller blinds, plus 10 chain-driven tapestry tracks to which the Royal Festival Hall’s famous Hilary Bourne-designed tapestries have been reattached following restoration. The movement of all these elements is integrated into the Stage Technologies automation control system.

Acoustic consultants Kirkegaard Associates were responsible for transforming the room acoustics into a perfect environment for staging world-class events of all types and productions of all sizes, and they specified all of the various treatments. Getting the acoustics right was a major part of the whole refurbishment scheme, and the overall project was led by architects Allies and Morrison.

J&C Joel’s team was headed by Mark Taylor. The installation process took place over 12 months, with the J&C Joel team varying in numbers from four to 10 people, dependant on which stage of the install process was in progress.

The four black acoustic wool serge concertina banners, located in front of the organ doors, are the Triple E Concertina banner system. Each measures five meters wide by 10 meters drop and moves up and down in front of the organ doors.

The 38 roller banners are mainly positioned over the stage area. These have been manufactured from black bonded serge, involving two layers of the material being bonded together in a special J&C Joel process.

The banners are arranged in three banks of 10, 14, and four and fastened to the underside of the production attic. The other 10 are deployable on the rear wall of the 2,800-seat auditorium, on levels five and six.

A total of 10 tapestry tracks are installed on levels five and six. Six on the actor’s right and four on the actor’s left, all utilizing special Triple E chain-driven track.

A major installation challenge, explains Taylor, was “the logistics of unloading lots of heavy pieces of equipment and moving them some considerable distance to the roof space of the main hall with the building under refurbishment and many obstacles en route.”

In addition to the main work in the Royal Festival Hall itself, J&C Joel supplied a number of blinds, tracks, and drapes to other areas in the complex.

In the Terraces, a seven-suite function area and 25 Silent Gliss electric roller blinds were fitted. Within the same area a number of custom chestnut-dyed wool serge drapes were installed on Triple E 3 way tracks recessed into the ceiling space. The rehearsal rooms also feature various tracks and drapes.

Taylor adds, “It was a real honor for J&C Joel to be involved in such an enormous refurbishment of such a prominent London landmark venue that is now acoustically world-class.”