Sevenoaks School Performing Arts Centre
Commercial & Public Access Winner 2010
Building Owner: Sevenoaks School Foundation
Architect: Tim Ronalds Architects
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Price & Myers
MAIN CONTRACTOR: R Durtnell & Sons LTD
JOINERY COMPANY: Durtnell Joinery
OTHER ASSOCIATED COMPANY: MWM Carpentry LTD
Wood Species: Douglas Fir
Sevenoaks School’s new Performing Arts Centre sits on a beautiful sloping site overlooking Knole Park. The building contains a concert hall large enough for a symphony orchestra, choir and audience of 450, a recital room, and a music school with 23 teaching spaces of various sizes. It also provides a new drama studio, and drama teaching and technical spaces.
The building is built of warm, solid, natural materials – grey brick, timber and zinc on the outside, a soft red brick and timber on the inside. Tim Ronalds Architects decided at the outset that natural timber would be used throughout the building to provide the warmth and acoustic response conducive to music. Douglas Fir was chosen for its colour and vitality. This timber was used for every element – roof structures, windows and doors, joinery, panelling and handrails – everything except flooring where the hardness of Oak was needed.
Acoustic considerations underlie the design of each part of the building. In the hall, a large open timber roof structure provides the volume and detail needed for the acoustics of a high quality concert hall. The high roof with its low eaves gives the space scale but intimacy. The roof structure was engineered by consulting engineers Price & Myers. The 18m-span solid timber trusses were manufactured and erected by Constructional Timber Ltd. The recital room is a space made entirely of timber, with a scale suited to smaller music ensembles. For acoustic reasons the room has non-orthogonal geometry and an asymmetric pyramid roof, which have been beautifully built by MWM carpentry. The exposed timber roof structures’ rhythm of rafters and purlins and the timber batten wall linings naturally reflect and diffuse sound to provide optimal acoustics. All the windows and joinery were made by Durtnell Joinery. The glazing is generally fixed, with solid timber ventilator panels.
People love the warmth, the colour, and variety in the grain of the timber. Our hope is that it will stand up to the rigours of life in a busy arts building, and age beautifully.