BFLS won an international design competition in 2007 to design a new building for the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Wales’ leading music and drama conservatoire. The new addition to the College’s professional training and performance facilities will comprise the 150‐seat Richard Burton Theatre, along with the 450‐seat Chamber Recital Hall, four Acting & Movement Studios and an Exhibition Gallery.
More images and architect’s description after the break.
The brief asked the design team to create not only acoustically-efficient performance spaces that would inspire learning and nurture creativity but also a landmark civic building that would make sensitive references to its context in its design and use of material.
The college is set within a Grade I listed Royal Park, near the magnificent Cardiff Castle. The immediate context is defined by parkland, a series of municipal buildings dating from the 19th Century, and two existing campus buildings: the Raymond Edwards Building, which sits immediately at the rear of the new building, and the Anthony Hopkins Centre, which lies directly to the south of it. The scheme will offer direct links to the Raymond Edwards Building, which houses Bute Theatre, and also create a new public square in front of the Anthony Hopkins Centre.
Each of the performance spaces has been conceived as a separate building so that the mass is broken up and human scale is introduced at street level. A single floating roof unifies the individual components as a whole, providing a dynamic new frontage for the college. The height has been determined by the Richard Burton Theatre’s fly-tower. The focus of the scheme is a public foyer with views west into Bute Park and into the Exhibition Gallery in the arcade. The double-height arcade will act as the ‘spine’ of the building, linking the two performance spaces.
Framed by wooded parkland, the new Chamber Recital Hall will be clad with a timber screen consisting of horizontal, light-coloured cedar wood slats, through which is revealed the inner black membrane. The cladding wraps itself around the entire concert hall, with a cutback set inside the foyer to allow access for the internal bridge, which links the hall with the theatre.
At the other end of the building, a semi‐circular form, clad in near‐white Portland stone, accommodates the Richard Burton Theatre. Both the use of Portland stone and the vertical fins placed across the façade sensitively acknowledge the context of neoclassical buildings nearby.
Interior finishes of stone and timber create warm and tactile spaces for users. The curved contours of the concert hall will offer an impressive acoustic environment, and timber is used to enhance acoustic performance, applied to walls, seating and the ceiling.
Finally, the college wanted the new building to be environmentally responsible. RWCMD is set to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ by incorporating various sustainable measures, such as the placement of water-heating solar panels and the use of natural ventilation and thermal mass where possible. The building’s arcade operates as the building’s ‘lungs,’ circulating warm and cool air through its natural stack chimney effect.
The project is currently under construction and due for completion in 2011.
Architects: BFLS Location: Cardiff, Wales Design Team: Jason Flanagan, Paul Bavister, Anne Heucke, Jason Sandy, Armando Elias, Kibwe Tavares Client: Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Years (Start-Finish): 2007-2011 Area: 4,400 m2 Photo Credits: Vyonyx
- Theatre cladding by Portland Stone
- Concert hall timber cladding by Western Red Cedar
- Glazing by Carey Glass