The city of Newcastle is home to the oldest standing theatre in all of New South Wales. Surviving several alterations and rebuilds, various iterations of The Victoria Theatre have stood on its current Perkins Street site since 1876. In 1966, the theatre was permanently closed as an entertainment venue, sporadically being used as a retail space since this time, but without any performance or stage-use. In 2016, ownership was transferred to Century Venues, and a year later, Koikas Acoustics’ involvement in the restoration of the theatre began.
Koikas Acoustics, who has a long-time working relationship with Century Venues, was engaged to undertake an environmental noise assessment on all acoustic matters relating to the theatre’s reinstated operation. Two primary areas were to be addressed:
- The effects of the operation of the theatre on existing and future residential dwellings in the immediate vicinity;
- The production of an acceptable internal soundscape catering for a range of genres of music and entertainment.
The team of acoustical engineering consultants at Koikas Acoustics, with the assistance of industry-standard noise modelling software, made educated predictions on the future acoustical performance of the building to be submitted to Newcastle City Council as a part of the theatre’s restoration Development Application.
Using the Odeon ray-tracing environment, loudspeaker noise sources were modelled inside the main theatre area to ascertain several noise metrics affecting the acoustical quality of the room, as well as understanding breakout noise to nearby sensitive receiver points.
In collaboration with Scott Carver Architects, an accurate 3D model was used to predict the reverberation time (RT60), Speech Transmission Index (STI) and other noise metrics to maximise the listener’s future enjoyment of the space.
Maximum noise levels at each façade were then used in conjunction with Cadna/A to predict the noise egress from the venue to nearby residential receiver points. Noise from music was assessed cumulatively with outdoor patron noise to formulate a plan of management for the venue in order not to impact on the health and amenity of nearby residents.
An acoustic report was prepared to provide recommendations on the acoustic treatment of surface finishes inside the theatre, in addition to the construction details of the external structure of the building. This was undertaken so that the theatre possesses a high-quality sound environment and not negatively impact nearby residents.
The development application for Victoria Theatre was submitted to Newcastle City Council in October 2019 with the acoustic assessment report supplied by Koikas Acoustics. Pending Council approval and the success of fundraising the restoration, an important piece of Australian cultural history will live again.