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Gloucester Music and Dance Factory

Part 1 Project 2010
Wayne Mannings
University of the West of England | UK
The Fleece Complex, an unoccupied site within the centre of Gloucester, is currently on the market. The site contains several buildings of historic value, but in dilapidated condition, as well as a structure of limited architectural interest.

My proposal for the “Gloucester Music and Dance Factory”, based on analysing the cultural offer within Gloucester, aspires to bring an identity to the submerged creative energies of the city. Through providing education in a range of formats, the scheme aims to strengthen pathways into music and dance. The facility, part of a wider masterplan for the city centre, is designed to bring together a diverse range of people, forming a creative environment to meet, talk and play, nourishing cross collaboration and networking.

The site strategy is designed to integrate the collection of structures as a coherent ensemble. This is achieved by puncturing the gable wall of one of the existing buildings and forming a new linking bridge. A new three storey building, standing within the footprint of the demolished structure, becomes the centre of the site.

The layout of the new building responds to the design principles of the Blackfriars quarter contained within the local plan and design codes. Elevations front directly onto the main street whilst spatial configurations are designed to enhance the historic character of the area by restoring the inner backspaces. This contributes to the interpretation of the site as a place of production and industry.

It was apparent that the relationship between public and private operated vertically. A central public space was developed in response to the requirements of the surrounding rooms. The dynamics of the space seek to heighten the atmosphere; you enter an immersive building, in which the space communicates an impression of activity occurring in all directions.

Public facilities are positioned strategically, signaling public access and welcome; they break the barriers of ambiguity providing a stepping stone into the depths of the building. The site is intentionally read as a public facility as well as a private school, offering routes through the campus and variety of public, semi-public and public spaces.

Wayne Mannings

We set out as a year to study and repair the broken fabric of Gloucester city. This is a remarkable scheme for its ‘fit’. Wayne Manning’s ‘Music and Dance Factory’ integrates completely into the fabric of the city and does so with an assurance of a highly skilled and attuned practitioner.

Finding the Site

Where most of his cohort went for the big, clear and obvious sites in Gloucester city (of which there are sadly too many), Wayne found a tumbled down collection of sheds in a tight interstitial space between the precious and active high street and back-lands anticipating Blackfriars. In that armpit of a site, at the choke point of Bull lane, he has deftly created for Gloucester another yard or cloister. His reading and the subsequent repair of this bit of historic context has been exquisite.

Function Follows Form

Within that very Gloucester tectonic he intuitively decided he would create a ‘music and dance factory’. Remarkably he then found a nascent organization of musicians looking for just this accommodation. With these very real clients he has organically woven his complex programme.

Spatial Organisation

At the heart of the scheme is the protected but accessible yard. Spinning off of this organizing space is a truly mixed use scheme of public spaces vertically organized around a new theatre, public / private studios beside under and over and, finally, more private accommodation tucked into the further reaches of the proposed and existing fabric. The juxtaposition of these elements, the carefully insertion or deletion of built fabric and the social interactions they facilitate has been worked and reworked to achieve the seamlessness of the plans and sections. The building is quiet, confident and fully integrated.


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