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Music School, Nottingham

Part 1 Project 2002
Frances Madders
Joanna Rapp
University of Nottingham, UK
The cliff-top site sits on the ridge that demarcates the western edge of Nottingham City centre and was once crossed by the wall that surrounded the medieval city. Despite its proximity to the city, the site has a peaceful,
residential character and the surrounding area is largely pedestrianised. The design thus aims to exploit the panoramic views out of the site and
allow both public and private access to these although the resurrection of a section of the city wall and fortress-like appearance of the cliff-top
elevation give it a quite introspective nature.

The purpose of the building is to provide a centre for the performance, rehearsal and practice of music. The main spaces are the performance space, large, flexible practice space, practice rooms and library, plus an outdoor performance space. The building
is divided into two main volumes, set at an angle to one another that corresponds with the way that the ridge changes direction at this point. A link between them contains the entrance and reception area and cloakroom and
covers the stage area of the outdoor performance space. The practice space
sits above the main performance space in one volume whilst the other contains the triple-height library and café through which the practice rooms that randomly pierce a double skinned external wall are reached by gantries.
The architectural language alludes to a stringed musical instrument e.g. through its materiality and a structure of numerous slender columns. The timber-clad practice rooms and stone-clad wall are the subject of the construction study.

Frances Madders
Joanna Rapp

Frances’ method of study was to begin with exploring and engaging with the site and its physical, metaphorical and historical layers. This particular site of Standard Hill, Nottingham, has an acute change of level across it and sits on the edge of the escarpment, which runs along to the Castle of Nottingham. For the project this is on the one hand difficult to resolve successfully but also offers tremendous opportunities. This project achieves the second by continuously working with the section of the building and development models.

This analytical approach constructed for Frances a building that eventually offered labyrinthine qualities of mystery, interest, detail and charm. Engaging with the specific brief, a music school, it allowed a compositional arrangement to reflect also the complexities suggested by a musical subject. Francis alludes to the making of the musical instrument.

Particularly rewarding in this student’s work is the interweaving of constructional studies with the design of the building. Both have been conversing continuously through the development of the project, engaged with, tackled full on, and thoroughly resolved.

The presentation technique also tries to deliberately reflect the interests that have driven the project, for example the coarseness of the layers of the site.

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