Pictured about the Electroacoustic Studios, home of NOVARS at the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama


With cutting-edge design by Cruickshank and Seward architects, the new facility NOVARS is an internationally-renowned centre for the creation of electroacoustic music, attracting students, researchers, composers and artists from around the world.

Pictures are Acoustic Suite finals by Beccy Lane Positive Image

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General Design Features

In direct response to Manchester City planners NOVARS was designed as the gem of Bridgeford Street. This has been achieved by providing relief both in the building plan form and in elevation.

The large contrasting panels of glass, wood, metal and cladding separate the different functional and circulation elements of the building, expressing an urban confidence of productivity and creativity.

The vertical circulation element is interpreted as a through-glazed link separating the solid white coloured pre-cast concrete element from the warm coloured timber. These lighter-cladding elements are layered over each other and the glazed openings with the corner projecting out over the pavement line, forming a distinctive overhang with deeply recessed strip windows.

The corner of the building is also a key site feature, further enhancing the external appearance of the urban block. A sharp angular corner was incorporated with a pronounced overhang accentuated by steeply raking the zinc cladding.



Pictured above: Novars Staircase Area

Acoustic Considerations

To reduce the effect of noise contamination both to the isolated internal studios and to the adjoining street and neighbouring buildings, the air handling plant is attenuated and contained within the ground floor plant room with no externally mounted condensers or equipment.
The building utilises chilled beams to cool the Studio spaces. With no moving parts, the cooling beams never make unwanted noises. Attenuators are also installed in the main supply and return ductwork to the ventilation plant to prevent any noise breakout.
The nature of the occupancy requires that the studios are lobbied with acoustic doors and isolated structures within the building envelope. Sound incursion is optimally reduced to a practical minimum. Three internal acoustic pods are constructed using slabs of thick pre-cast concrete, which are separated from the floor via rubber isolating mounts to fully sound proof the area. The acoustic impact of the building occupancy on the site and surroundings is therefore insignificant.


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Pictured above: Cladding and wood material in the facade


Pictured above: ARUP 's team working on Studio 1 acoustic panels  
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Studio One hosts 32 channels monitoring, and incorporates a suspended loudspeaker array on a custom made ceiling grid. This studio is mainly used for postgraduate and staff compositional, multi-channel and sound diffusion performance research.

studio 1 novars research centre

There are two sound diffusion tools: The DACS custom made MANTIS 32 channel (100 mm faders) control surface with an EtherSense device (IRCAM) and a tailor made GLUION FPGA 16bit ADCs with 32 analogue inputs and 68 digital inputs/outputs for experimental purposes.

Pictured below: Postgraduate Students in the 24 Channel Studio

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A dedicated studio for audio in multimedia production and composition, the Sheila Beckles Studio incorporates a 5.1 Genelec monitoring system, with one Quad-core Mac Pro featuring two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors, a 30 inch Apple Cinema Display, two additional 20 inch Cinema Displays, and other equipment. This facility is mainly designed for postgraduate and staff audio visual and compositional research. It was named after the Sheila Beckles Foundation contribution to the Electroacoustic Studios of the NOVARS Research Centre

Pictured below: the 5.1 Surround System

Sheila Beckles Studio

After three years of research employing a number of game-engine tools, we are devoting the Sheila Beckels Studio at NOVARS primarily to research on new Game-engine and related technology WITH A FOCUS ON SOUND

NOVARS Sheila Beckels Studio - gaming


Game-Physics Engines

  • Blender Game engine (open source) with Audaspace (AudioGL)
  • CryEngine3 - Crytek GmbH (Crytek) game development SDK software (network educational license) (PC only)
  • OpenSimulator (second life open source)
  • Unity3D game engine in all computers including add-ons for iPhone and Android (+ 1 pro license in May 2012- floating apple mac pro)
  • Torque Game Engine + package extras
  • Valve: Steam/ Source Game Engine SDK software / Including Garry's Mods...! , lua
  • UDK – Unreal 3D development kit
  • Unreal Engine 4 (OsX)
  • others

Piping real-time Audio-engines, Sequencing tools and Audiomiddleware

  • MaxMSP-jitter,DIPS, mu libraries for OSC
  • FMOD
  • Puredata (PD)
  • Lispworkspersonal
  • SuperCollider
  • Csound & Cecilia
  • Pro Tools by Digidesign,
  • Logic
  • Nuendo
  • Reaper

Sound and Recording Equipment

  • 5.1 Genelecs 5x8040 Speakers
    • Studio 1 Sound system: Tests in Studio 2 can be ported to 31 Channel Genelec in Studio 1
  • 7070A Genelec subwoofer
  • Digidesign002
  • MOTU sound Card 828
  • MOTU 2048 PCI
  • ST30 Ambisonics kit + windshield
  • 4 Channel DAT - Fostex
  • DPA 4060 mic set

Software for design and web

  • Final Cut Pro
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver 
  • Flash
  • Google SketchUp8


  • Apple Mac Pro (2011) running dual boot with bootcamp - floating machine on wheels
  • Apple Mac Pro (2010) and Protools HD - lives in the hubroom
  • Server running Crytek licenses (in the hub room) and OpenSim Virtual Room
  • Macbook Pro (just for streaming)
  • Custom built PC for gaming (currently shipped to Germany)
  • Xserve - running student and staff accounts

Displays, Visuals, filming

  • Apple large Cinema Display (on large wheel rack)
  • 2x Apple Display Monitors (24") + 3 Apple TFT monitor (on wheels)
  • TrippleHead2Go DP edition
  • 2xHD TVs (2012)
  • New HD projector Optoma
  • Sony HDV 1080i- Digital HD video Camera Recorder


  • Mouse :-)
  • Gluion system (100 in/out) FPGA
  • Navigation System (wheel for 'Ho')
  • Kinect
  • Ps3 move motion controller
  • Eye camera
  • Space Navigators (4)
  • Control Freak
  • FaderFox interface
  • Kroonde
  • Dual pedal

Consoles and Smartphones

  • PS3 slim 360 (with games)
  • Xbox 360 HD (just died...)
  • PSP
  • Audioguide Android ACER Liquid
  • No iphone yet but Apple dev. license (Andy)

Virtual meeting Rooms

  • NOVARS OpenSim

NOVARS opensim

Writing metadata (tagging audio)

  • Punakea
  • Spotlight
  • MPEG7

Mapping, webtools organisation tools for groups and information

  • Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) 
  • Prezi zooming presentation editor
  • FreeMind - free mind mapping software 
  • Zotero - research tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyze sources 


STUDIO THREE - 10.2 Surround

A 10-channel monitoring system for postgraduate and staff multi-channel compositional research.

Studio 3 contains 8 + 2 loudspeakers with two subwoofers (all Genelec), one Quad-core Mac Pro featuring two Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors and other equipment.

Below: an early picture of Studio 3 taken before the completion of the remote hub room hosting all the studios' computers, audio interfaces and networking systems.

Studio 3