Music Practice Rooms

The challenge of any project in a rich historic context is ensuring modernisation is balanced with the location’s extensive history.

The Clore Music Studios provide stunning practice rooms for the historic New College, Oxford. Used as a space for students to practice and study their musical craft, it intermarries a gorgeous, contemporary building with the rich history of this conservation area.

While a relatively small project in terms of size, it presented many engineering challenges. This highly constrained site was peppered with services and had very poor ground conditions. The location was acoustically sensitive and the 17th century civil war ramparts running the full length of the site boundary meant there were archaeological considerations to contend with.

The extent of the archaeologically sensitive civil war ramparts informed the position of the building. From there, it was a matter of mounting a considered engineering response to the groundwork issues whilst achieving the architectural and technically advanced ambitions of the development.

The acoustic element of the brief required the structural response of a concrete frame. However, this architectural gem with an open frontage and rear elevation required a smart engineering response to provide lateral stability. Our pragmatic approach delivered the architect’s vision whilst de-risking the site with buildable solutions and allowing the building to really sing.

One of the notable features of the building is the floating roof. Achieved by supporting a concrete plane with a series of delicate cantilevered columns, it gives the building a stunning ‘no hands’ appearance that adds to the finesse of the space.

The development has received several awards, including the Oxford Preservation Trust award 2019, Building Awards – Small Projects 2020, and the RIBA SW Regional award 2021.

Client: University of Oxford
Location: Oxford
Value: £3.5m