London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art

Niall McLaughlin Architects, London, 2017

 

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The new space was intended to be a single home for all of LAMDA, which had previously been scattered across various spaces in London 

Nick Kane     Download Original

  • The new space was intended to be a single home for all of LAMDA, which had previously been scattered across various spaces in London    
  • The anodised aluminium fins of the exterior    
  • Stairs are kept visible    
  • The architect wanted to make circulation around the already tight space as generous as possible    
  • The naturally lit staircase    
  • Although brick was originally specified, concrete blockwork was used    
  • A tough material palette of blockwork and concrete is leavened by timber and brass    
  • LAMDA trains actors, stage managers, technicians and directors     
  • The main auditorium is lined in wood    
  • View of the auditorium    
  • Floor plans    
  • Isometric section – worm    
  • Section AA    
  • Section BB    
  • Section CC    
  • Section YY    
  • Detail section through north facade    

Níall McLaughlin’s 15-year commission to gather the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art’s dispersed facilities on to one site.

Externally the building is a simple factory-like container. The teaching block is composed of four identical metal boxes, each placed on a brick plinth. The theatre is treated as a fifth, elaborated version of these boxes. The flanged metal construction of the upper volumes unites the matter-of-fact arrangement of glazed and solid elements. The ribbed boxes provide rhythmic animation to a façade experienced predominantly at an oblique angle, moving past at speed by car or train. The brick plinth frames inviting openings for pedestrians to look into the inner world of the school.

The design was arrived at through a process with Níall McLaughlin Architects wanting to make circulation around the already tight space as generous as possible and LAMDA looking to squeeze in as much teaching and studio space as possible. Two gable ends were defined: one the brick gable of the original Victorian building, the other one of concrete blockwork. Between these runs a top-lit, double-height corridor that slowly tapers as it heads east, lined with studios facing the train tracks and offices, examination rooms and a library facing the road. 

These cellular spaces are divided by small areas that draw light into the corridor and maintain a visual connection to both sides of the site, as well as housing toilets, services and ventilation ducting.

The new concrete ‘gable’ acts to sever these defined spaces from the looser theatre space that bookends the eastern end, all connected by an open foyer, a bar and what serves as an entrance during public performances.

Although brick was originally specified, concrete blockwork has been used. The size of the blocks provides suitable unit scale for the vastness of the circulation spaces than brick would have, as well as clearly defining where the new addition butts up against its 19th-century neighbour. Original round windows now serve to visually connect the two spaces.

Due to the constrained site, the back-of-house facilities were placed below the theatre, lifting the stage two floors above the entrance level. The foyer is carved from the narrow space between the teaching block and the theatre. It is designed around the vertical journey from the box office to the auditorium. The timber fan of the auditorium, stairs and landings play against a masonry wall pierced with regular openings. A tough material palette of blockwork and concrete is leavened by timber and brass.

Data

  • Begun: Feb 2015
  • Completed: Jul 2017
  • Floor area: 5,500m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £18.9M
  • Procurement: Two-stage tender JCT Design and Build
  • CO2 Emissions: 21.8kg/m2/year
  • Address: 155 Talgarth Rd, London, W14 9DA, United Kingdom

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