St Andrews University Music Centre

Invited competition 2016. Unbuilt.

The historic borough of St Andrews is one of the most coherent and unaltered urban plans in Scotland.  The three converging main streets running approximately east/west are shown on all historic maps.  The spaces in between them are developed on a north/south “rigg” pattern, a system common to many other Scottish towns. The designated site is on the southern edge of the historic plan and the garden sub-divisions south of South Street are extremely long and narrow plots. It was our intention to return as much of the plot to garden as possible.

In thinking about how a new building might sit within this historic context, we quickly concluded that a single form on a north/side access would be the most appropriate.  The brief called for a recital room of 150 seats, foyer, practice rooms, rehearsal rooms and music library. The building should work for both public access on Queen’s Terrace and a more informal university entrance to the north.  We concluded that the building should have a pitched roof on a north/south axis. The building is generally organised into three sections.  The middle section is dominated by the auditorium with the foyer beneath it.  The southern section is the public face of the building with a major staircase system expressed on the outside and concluding with a rehearsal space in the loft.  The northern section is orientated towards the university with practice rooms at the ground and mezzanine level and the two remaining rehearsal rooms placed one on top of the other. The auditorium works  as a performance space  and for a full orchestra rehearsal. In flat floor mode, this accommodates an 80 piece symphony orchestra in rehearsal.  In full bleacher seating mode a full 150 audience can be accommodated.  Variable acoustics would be achieved with curtains behind the first floor balconies and fold out fabric on the flat soffit.  The stage is organised so that musicians appear “side-ways” as recommended by Yehudi Menuhin, in his eponymous auditorium.  Natural light enters via east and west clerestories. As the building is relatively tall it uses minimum footprint allowing existing mature trees to be retained and a substantial garden space to the east.

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