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  • Writer's pictureFrank Leonard Walker

04 Initial Studio Design and Planning

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

Back and Forth...

As established in an earlier post, I had recently moved into a Victorian terrace house with the intention of converting the basement into a studio. Although the basement wasn't too affected by damp, there were some other issues that needed to be solved. Namely the wonky floor and four supporting columns that took up a hefty portion of the floor space, making designing around them very tricky. I called around and got some quotes for removing these columns, supporting the beams, and while I was there, why not a bit of damp proofing as well? Unfortunately, these came back at between £6-9K which was over the limit of what I wanted to spend on all the internal building work that I intended to do! Throwing a spanner into the works, and between the slow-moving cogs in my mind... I knew the space wasn't ideal anyway, especially with the low ceiling height which can be a nightmare for acoustics, which led me to the thought 'I could build a purpose-built space in the garden for that price...'

The Garden Studio

Thus began the design for a garden studio, meaning I could have slightly more control over dimensions and room modes. Obviously, I was still restricted by the width of the house being just over 4 meters, but using John H Brandt's Room Mode Calculator I came up with these dimensions...

I began designing the internal structure on AutoCad (which was a learning process!), placement of the listening spot and speakers with help from Room EQ Wizard's Room Simulation program, and diffuser size and placement using the Room Mode Calculator mentioned above and QRDude. The design consists of flush-mounted monitors, splayed side walls, back wall diffuser, hanging corner bass traps and low-frequency membrane absorption. See the renders below:

Back Underground

I began getting quotes in for building the structure in the garden, prices were ranging from £7K+. Which again, were making me feel a little queasy. I started questioning if it was worth losing this much of the garden, and what I would do with the basement now? Do I really want to walk across the garden on a rainy day (God forbid!), all the while knowing I hadn't improved on the dimensions that much, the ceiling was still relatively low, and it wasn't any more spacious!

So, you guessed it, I went back to the drawing board, and back to the basement. This time needing to design around some awkward shapes including the chimney breast, empty bay window, supporting columns (removed or not), entranceway. All the while facilitating access to the fuse box, electric, and gas meters. Here are a couple of preliminary ideas below:

However, I finally settled on the design below which had the speakers set either side of the chimney breast, largely copying the design on the garden studio with acoustic treatment and layout, only changing the access point to the bottom corner, and filling the bay window with hanging bass traps.

Unfortunately, I never created a 3D render for this basement design as I had got a bit sick of AutoCad by then, and I could work from the garden studio designs. I made notes on all alterations that would have to be made and broke down the building work into stages before I began.

Next week: how I got distracted...

Frank Leonard Walker

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