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The music school development is broadly divided into three distinct parts with contrasting structural challenges: the new music rooms, the foyer and the existing listed cottages.

The music performance, practice and teaching rooms were situated in a new construction designed to offer the best acoustic and environmental performance, while restricting noise break-out. Based on load-bearing masonry walls on strip footings, and precastconcrete floor planks with structural screed toppings, the principle was to use heavy-mass construction, with internal music room walls, fl oors and ceilings isolated from the structure.

For a heavy roof, the team developed a system of interlocking prefabricated roof panels, comprising layers of plywood, insulation and plasterboard made in a joinery workshop. These were lifted on to steel rafters, which sat on a reinforced hollow block perimeter edge beam which tied the structure together and allowed fl exibility of window locations below. The roof was then finished with natural slate on battens.

The foyer space was designed as a bright, lightweight 'space-in-between', with the new music rooms on one side and the existing houses on the other. The structure was envisioned as a slender exposed steel frame incorporating, at the south end, the main steel stair. The columns were set back from the rear of the houses to minimise disruption to their footings. Varying eaves levels on the existing roofs led to a complex series of tiered roofs and clerestory windows being developed.

These helped to maximise available height within the foyer while filling the space with daylight. The existing listed houses and boundary walls required careful opening up and comprehensive archaeological recording to establish the most suitable structural approach. A methodology was agreed with the conservation officer based on minimal intervention involving underpinning alongside the new works. Part of the rear of the houses was in such poor condition that it had to be rebuilt. For this section, matching ironstone was salvaged from the demolition of garden walls.

The stone was cut to suitable sizes then built up, tied back to masonry behind. Internally, the walls and roof structures were generally sound and left alone as much as possible.

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