Today marks the opening of a comprehensive new facility for the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in the City of London. Designed by David Walker Architects and RHWL Arts Team, the scheme is toned in a basic palette of black and white which clearly differentiates the various elements of the complex.
A grand atrium gathers natural daylight and draws it into the heart of the building, reducing dependency on artificial lighting. This six-storey structure also acts as a break between the two distinct elements of the project: a pure white concert hall and a deep black theatre.
David Walker, founder of David Walker Architects, furthers: “The Milton Court Concert Hall, the main volume of the School, is clad in polished white concrete in contrast to the predominantly black glass volume of the residential tower.
"This black and white palette establishes a subdued monochromatic character for the building and further emphasises the duality of the brief as a positive compositional attribute. Secondary volumes, foyer, stairs, club, balconies, etc, are also treated in contrasting materials (white on black, or black on white) to heighten and clarify the elements of the building while combining to create a compositional whole.”
The concert hall can seat 608 spectators and is designed to acoustic rating PNC 15 with an extendable platform for a range of performances. The space is intended for solo recitals, chamber ensembles and medium-sized orchestral performances. There is also capacity for a full-sized symphony orchestra to rehearse.
For smaller, more intimate performances there is a 223-seat proscenium arch, multi-level theatre for drama and opera with fully-automated power flying into the integral fly tower. Additional flexible performance space can be found in a studio theatre which supports the institutions existing two theatres, incorporating a promenade, end stage, traverse, thrust stage, fan stage and in-the-round. A TV studio suite and rehearsal rooms can also be found onsite.
Barry Pritchard, Principal Director of RHWL Arts Team, said: “Our aim has been to create a building with the characteristics and functional arrangements of a professional concert hall and an intimate, yet technically sophisticated, performing arts centre. Milton Court is a place where students can learn and perform in facilities that emulate the professional world they will soon become part of, but also where world class artists can give recitals and masterclasses, and discerning audiences can enjoy first class performances.”