The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama is Wales’ national conservatoire. The winning design of an international design competition, the project includes three performance and rehearsal spaces, teaching rooms, studios and library facilities and is set in a Grade I listed Royal Park.
Designed from the outside in, each performance space is conceived as a separate building. The drama building forms a new façade and the recital hall sits among the woods adjacent to the existing building. These two elements are unified by a single floating roof.
The new entrance to the college opens out on to stunning views over Bute Park and an arcade forms a new spine linking the whole functioning as exhibition space for the Design & Costume Department, whilst doubling as the ‘lungs’ for the scheme as its natural stack effect ventilates the public spaces.
Civic Trust Award 2012
Building Awards – shortlisted for Project of the Yea
Innovative cooling system
High efficient façade
Low-emitting materials and finishes
High efficient lighting
Smart design (passive design strategies)
Ground Source Heat Pump
Green or brown roofs
To achieve acoustic excellence and theatrical intimacy, architect BFLS designed the college from the inside out. The college’s internal spaces – a 450 seat concert hall, a 160 seat theatre, two rehearsal rooms, a foyer and café/bar – are expressed externally, creating a building of juxtaposed volumes and rich textures under a dramatically sweeping roofline.
The building’s architectural verve made it structurally challenging – its steel frame had to be tailored to constantly changing geometries while the roof juts beyond the building cluster in a daring 10m cantilever. Acoustic isolation of from the rest of the structure and the need to achieve the BREEAM Excellent sustainability standard added a further challenge.
Seamless co-ordination between all the disciplines was imperative for smooth delivery of this project. Performing arts buildings have large open spaces. Combined with the unique geometry of the building that means there’s a lot of structural steelwork doing unusual things. Although the college makes extensive use of natural ventilation, mechanical air handling is required to assure performer and audience comfort.
Mott MacDonald developed a 3D BIM model integrating architectural, structural and building services designs. As each discipline developed and refined its own component of the project the central structural model was updated. If a beam or column was moved and it clashed with an air duct or cable run, the model alerted the team, enabling the clash to be resolved then and there. Exceptionally for any project, let alone one of such complexity, no redesign was required to rectify clashes encountered during construction.
Source: Mott MacDonald
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Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
Building services engineer:
Theatre Projects Consultancy
No other project by team
BREEAM 2008 UK Bespoke Excellent