Benenden School Music School and Hall by Hollaway Studio

As part of the school’s Centenary Vision, Hollaway Studio was invited in 2016 to submit a masterplan and conceptual design as part of an invited competition. The brief for the Concert Hall was that it should have a capacity of 750, accommodating the whole school and able to host concerts by visiting orchestras, choirs and soloists, attended by the wider community. 

Acoustic walls
Acoustic GRG
Class A Sound Absorbing Wall
Music School classrooms
acousticgrg.co.uk



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Acoustic timber cladding
Acoustic GRG
FlutterFree-T
School Hall internal cladding
acousticgrg.co.uk

The new Music School brief was for a welcoming space that would encourage the girls to practise, particularly in the evenings and at weekends. It had to include a double-height, multi-use space capable of hosting small concerts, with tiered and retractable seating and a recital room seating 150 with adjacent green room, ample storage, classrooms, offices and practice rooms.

With the project’s primary focus on acoustic performance and experience, the majority of internal finishes were chosen in consultation with the acoustician. A key example is the School Hall’s reflecting timber cladding. FlutterFree-T was chosen, as recommended by the acoustician. FlutterFree-W was also tested and modelled when designing the acoustic performance. However, in order to provide the reverberation time of four seconds that the client wished to achieve, T was chosen as the appropriate material. Other items of the material palette were acoustically modelled prior to selection.
Aaron Bright, architect, Hollaway Studio

The diagrid roof combines both structural and material acoustic solutions. Self-supporting, the structure contributes to further echo reduction. As with the grooves in the panels, sound bounces around the bays in its diagrid form, making the volume of the space feel larger. A variety of plywood sheets and veneer panels were integrated to further tune the acoustics.

The project has delivered a boldly contemporary school hall building, respecting the heritage of the grounds (Grade II Registered Park and Garden) and the Grade II-listing status of the existing school building (listed as Hemsted House), within an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Aaron Bright, architect, and Alex Richards, partner, Hollaway Studio 

 

Specification

Acoustic ceilings
BASWA
BASWA Phon Base Class A
Music School corridors and classrooms
baswa.com

FlutterFree wood paneling was specified. Sound bounces between its textured grooves, controlling echoes and absorbing low frequencies, so it uniformly reflects sound back into the space. For this project, a bespoke, hand-routed timber profile was formed to accommodate the mechanical ventilation strategy. 

Start on site March 2019
Completion
December 2022
Gross internal floor area
2,375m²
Architect Hollaway Studio
Client Benenden School
Client adviser KSS Group, Logic PM
Structural engineer Campbell Reith
M&E Sweco
Quantity surveyor Gleeds
Project manager Logic PM
Principal designer Goddard Consulting
Approved building inspector Sweco
Accoustic consultant Buro Happold
Main contractor Buxton Building Contractors
Annual CO2 emissions 7.9 kgCO2/m2
Predicted design life 50 years
Embodied and/or whole-life carbon 990 kgCO2eq/m2
CAD software used Revit, AutoCAD, Rhino

Timber, the predominant construction material for the school’s auditorium, was selected for its unparalleled acoustic qualities, its regenerative nature and wide availability. The timber used in this project was sourced locally whenever possible. 

The plywood cladding utilises a hanging system, as opposed to being mechanically fixed. This provides the client with an improved maintenance/replacement strategy as, should a panel require remedial work, it can be removed without causing permanent damage.
Aaron Bright, architect, and Alex Richards, partner, Hollaway Studio 

Benenden’s new Concert Hall and Music School by Hollaway Studio is a ‘musical Instrument in its own right’, made to give life to music and the cultural education of both Benenden’s pupils and the local community.

 

Project data

 

Selected products

 

Architect’s choices