Helping create the ideal learning and working environment for creative talent


Manchester Metropolitan University’s new £35m SoDA (School of Digital Arts) Building aims to create an ideal learning venue for digital creatives. Gilberts Blackpool is helping deliver the most appropriate environment within.

Built by Kier Construction with M&E services provided by Dodd Group, the four-storey centre provides production studios, digital innovation laboratories, editing suites, music and sound studios, which prompted complex ventilation criteria.

In designing the ventilation strategy for the facility that is fully air-conditioned via air source heat pump technology, Dodd Group had to balance attenuation of noise to varying levels as low as 20dBa, minimisation of heat loadings from the array of computer equipment within, whilst creating compliant supply and extract of air without hot or cold spots in spaces varying from single person offices through the café, toilet and changing facilities to seminar rooms.

Gilberts worked closely with Dodd Group throughout the process, beginning at the design stage to support with technical considerations.

To achieve the necessary reduction in background ventilation noise levels, Gilberts proposed using larger diffusers than would normally be used to achieve ventilation within the given spaces.

Gilberts’ GHV double deflection grilles and GSF omni-directional circular swirl diffusers supply air throughout the building. Both GSFR standard swirls and GSFA premium swirls, in matt black or pure white finishes, were utilised to provide alternative visual appearances to compliment the interior design. With their horizontal distribution of supply air they achieve higher air change rates than conventional diffusers, thereby helping moderate heat gain.

Additional GSFRs plus GECA eggcrate grilles extract the used air on all levels.

Gilberts’ SX and GX air valves supply and extract air from the toilet, shower and changing facilities on each floor., and the Changing Places accessible toilet

The combination of Gilberts’ diffusers ensures correct indoor air quality for the 1000 students annually that Manchester Metropolitan University predict will graduate from SODA.

“Sustainability was central to the M&E services, including air source heat pumps, LED lighting, and photovoltaic panels. Gilberts’ location in the North West- the same region as SODA- added synergy to the sustainable message,” explained Dodd Group Project Manager Will Tatterton. “Gilberts offers unrivalled technical support and has the manufacturing expertise to be efficiently able to create specials for particular project requirements. The company was invaluable in its assistance, supporting us in delivery of this high quality installation.”


The Manchester Metropolitan University SODA Building is one of numerous higher education facilities which benefit from Gilberts’ grilles and diffusers, including University of Liverpool’s Regius Chair chemistry laboratory and Rotblat lecture theatre, and the Harper & Keele Veterinary School.

Gilberts is recognised as the UK’s leading independent air movement specialist, offering grilles, louvres, and diffusers for natural, hybrid and mechanical ventilation. Founded 60 years ago and still family-owned and directed, Gilberts Blackpool is unique in its ability to develop components, be it ‘mainstream’ or bespoke- entirely in-house, from initial design through tooling, production, testing and supply, at its 8825m2 manufacturing facility.

Its state of the art test centre, designed and built in-house, is one of the most technically advanced in the country.



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