Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Birmingham, UK

One of only nine conservatoires in the United Kingdom, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s new home, with its five venues, is the first, purpose-built music college to be constructed in the UK since 1987.

Charcoalblue worked with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the acoustician and design team to develop auditorium and stage engineering designs for the performance spaces.

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is the only conservatoire in the UK that is also a faculty of a university (Birmingham City University). Its new home on the city’s Jennens Road comprises over 10,000 square meters of cutting-edge musical education spaces.

We worked with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, the acoustician and design team to develop auditorium and stage engineering designs for the performance spaces. This includes the 500-seat concert hall, 146-seat recital hall, 80-seat jazz studio – the first permanent jazz performance space at a UK conservatoire - and 100-seat black box experimental project space.

In addition, we assisted with the larger general planning of the building and developing the relationship between the performance and anterior spaces. The resulting building is one of the best equipped and thoughtfully conceived spaces for musical education in Europe and a new landmark for Birmingham.

“Our new building is the best of its kind: a space that is both warm and uplifting, both professional and humane.”

David Roberts, Pro Vice Chancellor, Faculty of the Arts, Design & Media, Birmingham City University

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire's new home is the first purpose-built music college to be constructed in the UK in thirty years.

The conservatoire received its Royal title in 2017.

The new 500-seat 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 performance halls are a masterclass in how restraint can be red-blooded...”

Building Design Online

The new 500-seat concert hall features an array of acoustic wool serge banners that descend from the architectural soffit.

Over the concert platform are positioned a series of motorised lighting bars, carefully located between acoustic reflectors.

A retractable orchestra platform is positioned against the rear wall of the concert platform.

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.

“...feels Iike a music box, wound up and primed to play”

Architects' Journal

The building also houses a 146-seat recital hall with a retractable seating system.

Charcoalblue assisted with the larger general planning of the building and developing the relationship between the performance and anterior spaces.

The 80-seat Eastside Jazz Club is the city’s only dedicated live jazz venue.

“We designed stage engineering systems for each space, with the goal of equipping their new campus with up-to-date, flexible and future-proofed technical facilities, sticking to a tight budget throughout.”

Chris Dales, Senior Consultant

Project Details

Client

Birmingham City University

Project cost

£57m

Completed

2017

Awards

RIBA West Midlands Project of the Year
RICS West Midlands Project of the Year
RICS West Midlands Design for Innovation Award

The building is one of the best equipped and thoughtfully conceived spaces for musical education in Europe

Credits

Acoustician, M&E / cost consultant

Hoare Lee

Structural/civil engineer

White Young Green

Landscape consultant

Planit-IE

Photography

Hufton+Crow

Chris' headshot

Talk to Chris about Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

+44 (0)20 7928 0000

Chris' headshot

Talk to Chris about Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Contact Chris

+44 (0)20 7928 0000