Three music buildings win RIBA awards

- 14 June 2013

The new Chetham’s building, by Stephenson:ISA

The Royal Institute of British Architects has announced that three new music facilities, all previously featured in Classical Music, are among the winners of 2013 RIBA national awards for architectural excellence.

The Bramall Music Building at the University of Birmingham, the Colyer-Fergusson Building at the University of Kent and the new development in Manchester for Chetham’s School of Music are among the 43 UK recipients this year.

The Chetham’s building, by Stephenson:ISA Studio, was also named as building of the year in the north-west regional category, even though its main auditorium component remains incomplete while funding is sought. While regretting its incompleteness, the judges’ citation described the construction as ‘a highly thoughtful and beautifully crafted new addition to the medieval school campus,’ and continued: ‘Manchester is a brick city so it is refreshing to see such an original and exquisitely detailed study in the material for an important civic building.’

The Bramall building, by Glenn Howells Architects

The public centrepiece of the £16m Bramall Music Building, designed by Glenn Howells Architects, is the 420-plus seat Elgar Concert Hall. There is also an orchestra-sized rehearsal room as well as various rooms to house the university’s academic music department staff and its collection of instruments and electro-acoustic equipment.

The building slots into a branch of the university’s 1909 redbrick Chancellor’s Court, thereby completing the crescent plan of its original architects. The award citation states: ‘A thorough understanding of the geometry and detailed construction of the existing buildings, with great attention to detail and materials, has resulted in a very successful modern reinterpretation of the byzantine building’s style.’

The Colyer-Fergusson Building, designed by Tim Ronalds Architects, connects a flexible auditorium, practice rooms, offices and open lobby space to the pre-existing Gulbenkian theatre and cinema building on the Canterbury campus.

The Colyer-Fergusson building, by Tim Ronalds Architects


Professor Keith Mander, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor, said: ‘The Colyer-Fergusson Building has raised the standard of the university’s music-making to new levels and provided many more opportunities for students to rehearse and perform. The university is delighted that the building’s architectural and musical distinctions have also been recognised by RIBA as well as the many visitors and performers who have used the building.’

RIBA 2013 national award winners also include the creative arts venues Mareel in Lerwick and the MAC in Belfast.

All the award winners are eligible for the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize, chosen in September from a shortlist due to be unveiled in July.


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