Architect In Charge: Hopkins Architects
Clients: King’s College School Wimbledon
Structural Engineers : Cundall
Environmental / M&E Engineers: Chapman BDSP
Arboriculturist: Simon Jones Associates
Project Management: Equals Consulting
Text description provided by the architects. The Music School at King’s College School, Wimbledon, features a 200 seat concert hall surrounded by a rehearsal and teaching space. The architectural challenge was that it must sit comfortably on an irregular site, relate to neighbouring arts and crafts houses and complement the larger school buildings.
The result is a carefully arranged group of three linked, but individual buildings, positioned to be viewed amongst a group of existing trees, embedding it smoothly within the school environment. Hand crafted traditional materials on the outside help fit the new architecture into the local context whilst the interiors express the timber roof construction engineered to provide the best possible acoustics for performance and rehearsal.
Since its foundation in 1829, King’s College School Wimbledon has become one of the leading academic schools in the UK. In 2013 Hopkins Architects was selected to design the music school as part of an ongoing development masterplan to improve facilities within the estate.
In finer detail, a single storey L-shaped foyer enables access to all parts of the building by linking the three distinct elements. These consist of a triple-height auditorium seating up to 200 people with a stage for a 70 piece orchestra; a double height rehearsal space for 70 musicians above a pair of classrooms; and a linear 2 storey block accommodating individual practice rooms, teaching rooms and offices. The gable end of the linear block is home to a porters’ lodge to control access into and out of the rear of the site and a caretaker’s flat on level above. A large basement provides the necessary WCs, storage, plant and practice space for percussion and amplified instruments.
Daylight is provided through diffused overhead roof lights or a continuous clerestory glazing respectively. In the main auditorium a series of vertical bay windows provide lateral glimpses back to other buildings in the school without distracting from the performers on the stage. Picking up on the surrounding buildings and in particular the great hall, external walls are built from handmade brick and the roof is clad in specially commissioned handmade clay roof tiles which mirror the internal structure.
Mike Taylor, Principal said: “The aim was to make the Music School feel like a campus within a campus. Formal performance and rehearsal spaces are arranged in an informal and permeable layout. Circulation separates a family of three blocks which vary in form and scale but share architectural and geometrical themes.
The solid brick construction beneficial for acoustic separation is punctuated by a variety of openings which add character, bring daylight into the heart of the scheme and provide glimpses back to the wider School campus. Handmade construction and warm materials aim to offer a contemporary take on the Arts and Crafts tradition appropriate to the location.
As with previous Hopkins Architects’ projects, the structural and services engineering is integrated into and carefully expressed within the fabric of the architecture. The building utilises a combination of natural and integrated displacement ventilation to help achieve a Breeam Very Good rating, excellent environmental and acoustic conditions throughout, and very good levels of natural daylight and ventilation.