Cedars Hall

Eric Parry Architects
, Wells, 2016

 

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The building is framed by cedars 

Dirk Lindner     Download Original

  • The building is framed by cedars    
  • A concave southern edge takes its cue from the listed Liberty Wall that runs into it    
  • The hall is buried slightly, with the audience and performers sitting cosseted below ground level as light floods in from both the vertical glazed sections and from the clerestory above    
  • The school offers specialist musical education to school-age children    
  • The centrepiece of the new auditorium is a timber grid structure constructed in laminated veneered lumber    
  • Rehearsal space    
  • The design is a simple one-way spanning structure with the cross members providing restraint and stiffness    
  • Detail of the timber grid structure    
  • The building facilitates music learning, practice, teaching, coaching, rehearsing and performance    
  • Circulation space    
  • Site context plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Section AA    
  • Section BB    
  • North elevation    
  • Perspectival section    

Cedars Hall is a new music facility for Wells Cathedral School in Somerset.

The site is in a listed landscape with the backdrop of a Georgian mansion, mature cedar trees and the silhouette of Wells Cathedral. It was tightly constrained in every orientation and the requirement to create a new recital hall as a focal point for the school community required a large volume to settle confidently and centrally within this setting.

Cedars Hall has two main components: the almost-square Cor-ten form of the recital hall; and an adjacent, slightly lower, timber structure, housing rehearsal, observation and teaching spaces, with a concave southern edge that takes its cue from the listed Liberty Wall that runs into it.

The hall is buried slightly, with the audience and performers sitting cosseted below ground level as light floods in from both the vertical glazed sections and from the clerestory above. This primarily serves to ensure the relationship to the exterior is not too fierce nor distracting; the view out is one of trees and sky, and the view in is of the upper rows of seats or heads, completed when looking back southwards by the cathedral itself looming in the background.

The centrepiece of the new auditorium is a timber grid structure constructed in laminated veneered lumber. Originally conceived as a plywood lamella structure, the building developed throughout the project, balancing construction process, efficiency and cost. The final design is a simple one-way spanning structure with the cross members providing restraint and stiffness. Although light in appearance, the structure supports layers of cement board to provide a high-performance acoustic enclosure.

Stability of the roof is also a hidden piece of creative structural engineering. A continuous glazed clerestory means there is no structural connection between the upper roof and lower clerestory roof structures. The upper roof relies simply on portal action of the hidden steelwork and four primary columns. This structure restrains the upper roof and top of the clerestory, while the clerestory roof and perimeter wall structures rely on a concrete ring beam cantilevering from concrete walls. The ring beam works horizontally and vertically, tying together all the horizontal forces and distributing them to the blade columns sandwiched between the 5m windows.

Data

  • Begun: Feb 2015
  • Completed: Nov 2016
  • Floor area: 1,458m2
  • Sectors: Arts and culture, Education
  • Total cost: £6.6M
  • Address: 15 The Liberty, Wells, BA5 2ST, United Kingdom

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