BFLS provide new performance space for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
The approach started with the design of the core performance spaces, working on them from the inside out, in order to achieve the acoustic and theatrical excellence the college was striving for. The Dora Stoutzker Hall is a 450-seat recital hall, designed to be acoustically flexible, accommodating a range of performance configurations, including soloists, quartets, choir and chamber orchestra, as well as for full orchestra and amplified groups.
The acoustic performance drove the design of the hall. It is a classic shoebox – long narrow and tall, the audience arranged on two levels, with seating wrapping around the platform at the upper level. The geometry is balanced to achieve the optimum blend of primary direct sound and secondary reflected sound from the balconies, walls and ceiling. Internally the room is lined with timber acoustic panelling designed to create a warm diffuse sound to match its rich golden appearance.
For the Richard Burton theatre the architects developed a traditional end-stage 200-seat proscenium theatre, a contemporary interpretation of a classic Victorian horseshoe room. The intimacy of the space ensures the closest possible relationship between the audience and the performers, while the deep violet interior encourages the audience to focus on the performance. Equipped with a full fly tower the theatre will teach students how to project up into a room, rig shows, design for a ‘big’ stage and accommodate touring shows. The traditional form of the theatre provides a complementary experience to the existing Bute theatre – a flexible flat floored studio theatre.
The concert hall, the theatre and the existing building are conceived architecturally as separate enclosures, with the roof over-sailing these three constituent parts, acting as a unifying element tying the whole composition together and enclosing the spaces between to form an entrance canopy.
The new façade to the College creates a new civic presence at one of the key entrances to Cardiff. With its new facilities, the RWCMD offers the only bespoke chamber concert hall in Wales, and along with the theatre and new rehearsal spaces, immediately places the college at the top of the league in terms of music and drama courses in the UK.