• Conservatorie11
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  • © Hufton+Crow
  • © Hufton+Crow
  • © Hufton+Crow
  • © Hufton+Crow
  • © Hufton+Crow
  • © Hufton+Crow
  • © Hufton+Crow
  • © Hufton+Crow
  • © Hufton+Crow

A groundbreaking facility for one of the UK's leading performing arts institutes.

Birmingham Conservatoire

 

Project summary

 

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is one of nine conservatoires in the UK and the only one that is also a faculty of a university (Birmingham City University). Founded in 1886 as the Birmingham School of Music, the institution has gone on to become one of the country’s leading performing arts schools with a heavy emphasis on practical education led by an esteemed history of distinguished permanent and visiting tutors. In 2015, renowned cellist and conductor Julian Lloyd Webber was named as Principal.

 

That same year construction started on a brand-new home for the conservatoire on the city’s Jennens Road. Designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios the £57m facility brings together a concert hall, recital hall, organ studio, black box experimental studio, over 70 practice rooms and an 80-seat jazz club – heralded as the first permanent performance space for jazz in any UK conservatoire.

 

As theatre consultant to the development, Charcoalblue worked with the architect, acoustician and design team to develop auditorium and stage engineering designs for the performance spaces. This includes the 500-seat concert hall which features a stage large enough to accommodate a symphony orchestra and replaces their old Adrian Boult Hall located in the city centre. The new concert hall features an array of acoustic wool serge banners that descend from the architectural soffit, to provide additional absorption to the walls of the room when lower reverberation times are required. Over the concert platform are positioned a series of motorised lighting bars, carefully located between acoustic reflectors. Above the reflectors a series of travelling beams provide flexible rigging anchors that may be repositioned to suspend touring truss and heavier stagelighting and audio equipment, as the occasion demands. A retractable orchestra platform is positioned against the rear wall of the concert platform, which may be deployed to different extents depending on the type and size of orchestra ensemble. Additionally, the front edge of the concert platform may be extended with demountable risers that are erected above the first row of auditorium seating. These are deployed when a very large orchestra is required.

 

The 146-seat recital hall has a retractable seating system allowing the space to be transformed to flat floor for exhibitions, ensemble rehearsals or other occasions where a large expanse of floor is required. An internally wired pipe grid extends across the entirety of the room soffit for rigging stagelighting and audiovisual equipment. A drape track extends around the perimeter of the room supporting a wool serge curtain that may be deployed to a variety of positions to adjust the reverberation time of the room.

 

Both the 80-seat jazz studio and 100-seat black box experimental project space include motorised internally wired trusses to rig lighting and audiovisual equipment. The motorised trusses in the jazz space are designed with custom angles and lengths to fit the unique proportions of the room, and above the stage are carefully designed to raise and lower between acoustic panels. Motorised trusses are provided with cable management systems, so cables used to service suspended equipment raise and lower automatically with the movement of the truss.

 

In addition, we assisted with the larger general planning of the building and developing the relationship between the performance and anterior spaces.

 

The conservatoire’s new home has been an ambition for the university, its staff and students for many years. The resulting building is one of the best equipped and thoughtfully conceived spaces for musical education in Europe and a new landmark for Birmingham.