LocationPenrith, United Kingdom
Architect in ChargeWill Mawson
ClientSunbeams Music Trust
Main ContractorThomas Armstrong Construction Ltd
Structural EngineerJS Engineering
Service EngineersJH Partners
Text description provided by the architects. Completion of the £2.0 million Sunbeams Music Centre marks a significant milestone in an extraordinary journey for Sunbeams Music Trust and Newcastle based MawsonKerr Architects.
This journey began 12 years ago as a university thesis project for MawsonKerr director Will Mawson then studying the charity for his final year project at Newcastle University; in an unusual turn of events this became a live project following unanimous approval by the board of trustees.
Established in 1992, Sunbeams Music Trust deliver their 'Music For Life' programme to tens of thousands of needing members of society each year and were eager for a home.
A green field site with transformational therapeutic qualities was generously donated overlooking Ullswater Valley near Penrith following which a lengthy fund raising period began for the centre including a number of sponsored “endurance challenges” by MawsonKerr and friends of the charity such as a Forrest Gump style 24 hour coast to coast run.
MawsonKerr’s resultant building is designed to embody musical qualities of rhythm, timbre and melody within the landscape; shaped along the curved natural contours it grows with a crescendo at the canopy to the eastern main entrance. Inserted along the rhythmical elevation are a series of playful introverted volumes housing key activities.
The architecture is intended to reflect synthesis between the natural context, a contemporary vernacular and musical union; housing several unique functions it is also importantly an outward facing advert for the charity.
External envelope materials are primarily slate stone clad spine walls with an oak façade to the main curved elevation, a series of lozenge shaped cedar shingle clad volumes all topped with an extensive green roof; many of these materials continue internally to create a rich interior texture. Radially spanning glulam beams run with a rhythm throughout the building creating the projecting eaves and entrance canopy.
The primary function of the centre is providing music therapy, in acoustically treated spaces specifically designed for group sessions or one on one. Secondly the important administrative requirement for a growing charity like Sunbeams Music Trust and thirdly the centre allows promotion of Sunbeams work throughout with exhibitions open to the public and music concerts generating funds for the programmes they run.
There is a strong sustainable agenda to the design based on first principles; the six hundred square metre Sunbeams Music Centre is predominantly naturally ventilated, naturally lit and the heating provided by ground source heat pump. U-values are to passivhaus standards with a large amount of locally sourced sheep wool and carefully designed south facing elevation to limit overheating. All materials are sustainably sourced and from as local a source as possible.
Integrated into the centre are a host of bespoke designed elements, such as the reception desk formed around the music signature of a harp, green walls, musically derived ironmongery, tiling incorporating imagery of the fund raising challenges and the main Glassical Hall (named after Philip Glass one of the patrons) whose oak clad walls are design to create an optimum acoustic performance.
Product Description. Burlington Slate Wall – One of the key drivers to the design is in creating a beautiful aesthetic of natural materials that are resilient and locally sourced. We were able to have great buy in by local quarry Burlington who were the source of all the amazing stone which runs radially throughout the building internally and externally.