The location of this building enabled the site to be better organised and to provide a more obvious and welcoming entrance to the college campus from the south, which is used by a significant number of staff and students, as well as visitors attending evening events. It was also strategically significant in terms of the required ‘clustering’ of the curriculum areas, locating the Music areas close to the Forum as the major performance space in the college, with public exhibition space and Art areas close to the public ‘event’ spaces.
The design utilised the level change of three metres between the college campus and the adjacent lower car parking areas, with the three storey building cut into a banked slope that had housed a sunken garden. The topography of the site fitted well with the requirements of the building, in that the Art department required studios with generally north light glazing and the music facilities demanded minimal glazing to reduce the outbreak and intrusion of sound and noise.
The new heavy masonry retaining wall provided the optimum sound attenuation, enclosing the music facilities on three sides of the ground floor. This provided a platform for the steel structure to the upper storeys which are enclosed with curved metal roofs. The first floor houses the principal entrance and is linked to the surrounding banks by new bridges. The upper floor corresponds with the height and profile of the central portion of the adjacent Forum, providing new art accommodation configured to gain maximum benefit from high level north light glazing. The central staircase is contained in a dramatic three storey top-lit shaft.
Externally, the design builds upon the architectural language developed in the design of the Beacon Science Centre.