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Burwell Deakins completes £4.3m Plymouth University arts centre

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[FIRST LOOK + PROJECT DATA] Burwell Deakins has completed this £4.3 million performing arts centre in for Plymouth University

The 1,540m2 performing arts centre includes a 300-seat auditorium, a flexible ‘white-box’ theatre, and music rehearsal rooms.

The south façade of the scheme features a 11 x 6.5m external screen which can be used to show live performances of what is happening inside the building.

According to the architects the copper-clad building, knwn as the House, acts ‘as a gateway’ to the city’s cultural quarter.

Burwell Deakins was appointed to the job in 2012, but has been working on the university’s city campus since 2006 and has previously completed an extension to the unversity’s library as well as a Marine Building.

Burwell Deakins Plymouth arts centre

The architect’s view

‘The House provides students with the opportunity to use fully-accessible, highly specialised theatrical facilities and offers a new creative hub for the performing arts department.’

‘The brief from Plymouth University required the building to cater for integrated disability performances, and so the facility is designed to be fully inclusive for performers, technical students and audiences. This includes the incorporation of a tension grid over the entire theatre space, allowing full disability accessibility to the lighting and sound equipment, multi-level access to theatre spaces and fully wheelchair accessible evacuation systems. The landscape has slow, integrated ramps that mitigate the effects of the sloping site.

‘The scheme uses a natural ventilation strategy and is designed with extended labyrinth intakes to minimize break in noise. This is used in combination with exposed pre-cast concrete soffits, phase-change materials and connections to the central CHP plant to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating for the building. The steel structure has a lightweight, highly insulated infill frame, helping to create a thermally stable environment.

‘In response to the surrounding urban environment, the building’s skin is made from standing seam copper, in dialogue with the adjacent Roland Levinsky building [by Henning Larsen Architects and BDP]. The building is also clad in locally-sourced Plymouth limestone, a traditional building material in the city’.

Project data

Location Plymouth
Type of project higher education
Client Plymouth University
Architect Burwell Deakins
Project manager Turner & Townsend
M&E engineer Method Consulting
Quantity surveyor Gardiner & Theobald
Main contractor Midas Construction
Completion date March 2015
Gross internal floor area 1,540m2
Total cost £4.3 million
Specific sustainability targets BREEAM Excellent


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