Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester Building Development, England Architecture

Chetham’s School of Music

English Musical Education Building – design by Roger Stephenson Architects

26 Oct 2012

Chetham’s School of Music Campus

Design: Roger Stephenson Architects

Location: Long Millgate, Manchester, England

Manchester Music Campus Overhaul

Roger Stephenson Architects has completed its radical £36 million overhaul and extension of Chetham’s School of Music Campus, Manchester.

The Manchester-based practice has created a contemporary new building for the musical and academic teaching facilities, providing a state-of-the-art environment for its students. The new building will comprise a 350 seat Concert Hall, a 100 seat Recital Hall, a full academic school and over a hundred music teaching and practice spaces.

The new development also re-establishes the library’s local prominence, both in terms of its 15th Century architecture and public accessibility to its varied contents.

The music establishment possesses several unique characteristics; not only is it partly formed of a medieval fortified manor house set upon a rocky outcrop, it is also considered as an essentiality in Manchester life and evokes a wider national impact on the British music scene. Therefore the project was not just about a new school and an old library but about saving a unique and world-class education institution and producing an outstanding building for the nation.

Alongside ongoing regeneration in Central Manchester, the new building provides an iconic opportunity for the educational and cultural standing of the city to consolidate its position on the international scene.

Neighbouring Manchester Cathedral, Victoria Station and MEN Arena, the 2800 sq.m. site, is located to the north of the original school campus which comprises five buildings congregated around a central courtyard,. It forms a gateway and important pedestrian nodal for commuters and visitors alike. The school is adjacent to the confluence of the culverted Rivers Irwell and Irk, contributing to its varied topography.

Roger Stephenson Architects’ building, unique in its shape, responds positively and sensitively to the existing context. The building’s mass and height vary in different locations to provide a considered cityscape. The new school terraces respectively away from the medieval building and stacks up towards the northern corner adjacent to Victoria Station, emphasising the main entrance to the building.

As well as seeing the construction of a new structure, Roger Stephenson Architects has removed superfluous outer buildings allowing the medieval buildings, which date back to 1421, to front Victoria Street, allowing it to breathe within its previous, confined context. Though the new school amply fulfils the requirements of the new school brief, the new build has been massed to reduce its impact on the medieval library.

In terms of character and materials used, Roger Stephenson Architects recognise the duty of all generations to represent their own epoch while acknowledging the endeavours to past generations. As a result they utilised a palette of solid materials creating a carved, highly sculpted structure promoting a feeling of permanence traversing future decades, and potentially centuries. 500,000 handmade buff-coloured bricks were created to compliment the facing Victorian railway buildings and provide a backdrop to the red sandstone medieval administrative building and library.

The new school is divided vertically and horizontally. The performance related spaces are located in the base. The entrance and foyer spaces are located in a glazed strip along Hunts Bank. The music school itself is contained above the ground and expressed via small, punctuated windows that emphasise the acoustic treatment required for these specialist spaces.

The tripartite structure’s internal activities have been expressed in sculptural form of the external façade. The building manifests itself akin to the fluid shapes of musical instruments. The fenestration on the main and side entrance elevations refer to the stave of a music score. The curved corners reflect the fluid nature of the site, with culverted rivers flowing beneath it and vehicles circulating the island site.

In addition to the ancillary services required of a school, the new school comprises the following spaces:
• 3000 sq.m of Music School Accommodation
• 2000 sq.m of Academic School Accommodation
• 350 seat concert hall
• 100 seat recital hall
• 57 music teaching rooms
• 65 music practice rooms and,
• 21 academic classrooms

Internally, the 15th Century building cloister provides a reference for the form of the new school. The seven-storey building encloses an airy atrium; a monastic-quality of space providing a secure internal space for use by both pupils during school time and public as a Foyer during performances.

Chetham’s roots have been cemented for centuries in its historical buildings. Via the creation of new and the reintroduction of the historic, Roger Stephenson Architects’ design has secured the school’s impending history for further centuries to come.

Chetham’s School of Music – Building Information

Architect: Roger Stephenson Architects
Client: Chetham’s School of Music
Contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine
Project Manager: Drivers Jonas Deloitte
Quantity Surveyor: Arcadis
Structural Engineer: Price and Myers
M&E Engineer: Norman Disney and Young
Acoustic Engineer: Arup Associates

Funding for Chetham’s School of Music came from numerous sources including:
• Department of Education
• Northwest Regional Development Agency
• The Monument Trust
• The Garfield Weston Foundation
• The Foyles Foundation
• The Oglesby Charitable Trust
• The Wolfson Foundation

Chetham’s School of Music information received from Roger Stephenson Architects

Address: Long Millgate, Manchester, Lancashire M3 1SB

Phone: 0161 834 9644

Location: Long Millgate, Manchester, Northwest England, UK

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