New Music Facilities for Wells Cathedral School
by Eric Parry Architects
Client Wells Cathedral School
Awards RIBA South West Award 2017 and RIBA South West Building of the Year - sponsored by Marley Eternit
"The building is still showing us new possibilities for performance", Elizabeth Cairncross, headmistress of the school.
Cedars Hall, the new music facility at Wells Cathedral School, is used for the teaching, learning and performance of music. The building lies at the historically significant axis of Wells Cathedral Chapter House, and both function as gathering spaces for the local community. Acoustic requirements dictated the volume of the recital hall and the design sought to minimise the impact on the listed landscape and maintain views to the cathedral by using the sectional device of partially burying the performance space and employing a set-back clerestory at roof level. The clerestory roof is articulated with four giant columns and a pregnant timber roof form which serves to modulate the acoustic interior. The main hall can accommodate 400 people. On the upper floor, there are dedicated spaces for woodwind and percussion, each with glazed observation rooms for the specifics of teaching music. The generous top lit foyer built against the curve of the listed wall doubles up as a brass section rehearsal space.
A gently sloping curved path to the entrance follows the line of the historic liberty wall. The building contains a technically excellent recital hall and interconnected spaces for teaching, rehearsing, performing and recording.
This new building compliments the school’s former regular venue, Wells Cathedral, providing much needed flexibility and choice of performance, teaching and rehearsal spaces. The cathedral was purposely built for worship, choir, organ and instrumental music, the schools new building extends these possibilities to include new forms of music.
The new building has fine and elegant proportions, massive recessed glazed screens punctuate the equally massive corten walls. Neither material has a single joint and is 5.2m high by 2m wide. The choice of corten steel cladding, whilst controversial for some, has proven to be an inspired material that changes in appearance with the changing daylight, whilst giving the impression of having always been there.
The building compliments its surroundings and sits majestically in the landscape setting, adjacent to the giant and elegant cedar tree planted by HRH Charles and the listed garden wall to the south.
Contractor Shaylor Group
Structural Engineer Momentum Consulting Engineers
Environmental / M&E Engineer Buro Happold
Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant QSPM
Project Management QSPM
Acoustic Engineer Gillieron Scott
Landscape Architect Land Use Consultants
Theatre Consultant Charcoalblue
Internal Area 1,458 m²