Selectaglaze secondary glazing receives a standing ovation at stunning London school performing arts centre

  • 1 Dec 2021

Founded in 1876 by the Girls’ Public Day School Trust, South Hampstead High School is situated in Hampstead, North-West London. It now features Selectaglaze secondary glazing…

From 1946 to the late 1970s, it was a girls’ grammar school with approximately half the intake paid for by Hampstead Council.

Thereafter, it became an independent day school and has remained so ever since.


South Hampstead High School has a rich history, and its alumni include Academy Award-nominated actress Helena Bonham Carter, Murder She Wrote star Angela Lansbury and model Daisy Lowe.

The girls’ school began a substantial rebuild in 2014 as part of an ambitious eight-year plan, which included the transformation of Waterlow Hall which was constructed in 1988 into an adaptable performing arts centre. This was a £3 million project which Selectaglaze supported through the installation of acoustic secondary glazing.

Designed by renowned architects Broadway Malyan and Hilson Moran, and constructed by main contractor, 8build, Waterlow Hall can hold up to 12 different layouts and put on professional standard concerts for up to 400 people plus a musical ensemble.


The desire for the project was to create a facility that continued to reinforce the school’s performing arts legacy while also providing a first-class venue that could be used by both the school and the local community. Helena Bonham Carter was present for the opening of Waterlow Hall alongside actress Olivia Colman in January 2020.

Other work carried out by main contractor 8build included the installation of tiered retractable seating to improve the audience experience. The walls, ceiling and a technical gantry that runs around the perimeter of the hall, have all been designed to optimise the acousticity in the performance space.

As the school sits within a residential area and the surrounding roads carrying fairly high volumes of traffic, noise ingress and egress was a concern, for those inside, as well as the neighbours. 

Acoustic report

An acoustic report showed that the internal noise levels inside the hall needed to meet Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) which specifies that performance rooms and multipurpose halls should not go beyond 35dB, and ensemble rooms to be no more than 30dB. The introduction of secondary glazing to supplement the existing windows was recommended.

Selectaglaze was contacted by 8build to come up with the most sensitive but practical options of secondary glazing to meet the required acoustic insulation of the large new primary windows, whilst ensuring that they could function adequately and look aesthetically pleasing. 

Series 15

The mid-range Series 15 horizontal slider was found to be the best choice for the treatment at Waterlow Hall as it is a more robust horizontal sliding system that allows discrete treatment of larger windows.

Additionally, it accepts thicker glass when higher noise insulation is needed and was therefore able to accommodate 8.8mm acoustic laminated glass, which was specified in all the units. The new units were expected to provide noise insulation of around 46dB when measured in combination with the primary window.

A total of five Series 15 2-pane horizonal sliders were installed, along with one Series 15 3-pane horizontal sliding unit for a primary window with a wider opening. The secondary glazing was installed using bespoke timber fixing grounds into which it was fully sealed and secured. The cavity between the existing primary window and the secondary glazing makes a significant change to the level of noise attenuation.


The primary and secondary windows act as independent barriers to the transmission of noise, the greater the cavity between them, the better the dampening effect of the combined windows. Selectaglaze was able to reach the largest cavity available to maximise the acoustic benefits with a glass-to-glass cavity of around 200mm. 

The outstanding new performance space has had its acoustic insulation further enhanced with the addition of secondary glazing. The school has already noticed a clear upgrade of soundproofing in Waterlow Hall, and it has been clearly apparent when performances and events have taken place since its grand opening in 2020. 

New chapter

South Hampstead High school has embarked on a new chapter in its illustrious history, that will continue to encourage acting talent for years to come.

Events and performances taking place already include Gala and Music Concerts; the South Hampstead Speaker Series, featuring broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts; a VoiceBox event of TED style talks; a Poetry & Prose evening and numerous drama productions, all profiting from a space that has optimised its acoustic properties.

To read about Selectaglaze installing 47 secondary glazing units to a number of large gothic arched stained-glass windows in St Philip’s Church, Wolverhampton, click here.


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