Stevenson College Edinburgh, New Building, Images, Scotland

Music Box – Stevenson College Edinburgh

Music Box performance facility – design by RMJM Architects

Stevenson College

RMJM completes state of the art ‘Music Box’ performance facility
for Stevenson College Edinburgh

Images © Keith Hunter

Stevenson College Edinburgh officially opened the doors to its brand new music and performing arts centre, the Music Box, in September 2007.

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Designed by RMJM, the 2,000m2, two-storey Music Box is a single, bold form that contains a variety of teaching spaces, purpose built to include a recording studio, a music and dance studio, individual practice booths, classrooms and a 120 seat multipurpose auditorium, all under one roof.

The £3.85m building contains state-of-the-art technology to house the College’s award winning Creative Arts faculty. Kitted out to industry standard specifications, the new facility offers excellent practice, recording and performance facilities for over 350 students of subjects ranging from art and drama to media, music and dance, with opportunities for both the local community and organisations to get involved and enjoy the facilities.

The Music Box has a profiled metal ‘skin’ that wraps and unites these different programme elements. The skin is ‘peeled away’ at controlled points, where windows reveal life and activity within the building – at the drum room, entrance and dance studio. This skin – part revealing, part concealing creates a sense of drama and anticipation, particularly at dusk.

The programme of the building is split into specialist acoustic spaces and general teaching spaces. This allows each element to have its own structural and environmental logic – the heavy, masonry, highly serviced acoustic block against the lightweight, steel framed naturally ventilated classroom block.

A dramatic, 9 metre-high foyer area with full-length roof light acts as the main social hub of the building, providing a reception and informal gathering space during the day for students and a foyer for the performance venue in the evening that is open to the public and the local community. This area has been designed to maximise the benefits of natural light and ventilation provided by the glass roof light.

To connect the building with the wider campus, the approach to the Music Box has been landscaped to include an informal seating area and mini-amphitheatre to house outdoor performances. Drama is heightened by concentrating the planting into simple bold blocks of colour and all external lighting is either concealed or recessed.

The aim of the project was to create a vibrant and dynamic learning facility for the Music and Performing Arts students at Stevenson College, which engages with both the local and wider community, producing a landmark destination building which is distinctive, highly visible and welcoming.

Susan Bird, Principal and Chief Executive of Stevenson College commented: “We believe this inspirational centre, with its stunning design features and state-ofthe- art technology has the power to change perceptions and transform the direction of the lives of many people.”

RMJM is familiar with the challenging task of designing performing arts facilities and multi-use college buildings. The practice has completed 4 new buildings for Newcastle College, including ‘The Performance Academy’, which received an accolade from the Royal Institute of British Architects. RMJM is currently working on the Jewel and Esk Valley College development, featuring a ‘club’ facility for students to learn through real working environments, and has recently completed ‘ECOSpace’ at Lauder College, a highly sustainable training centre aimed at educating students in environmental best practice for the construction industry.

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RMJM Director Adrian Boot explained: “Collaboration has been the key to evolving the Music Box design. RMJM held extensive workshops on site with both the client and outside bodies to finalise the brief. This has included meetings with specialists in performance spaces and acoustics to ensure that the design maximised the potential for both the students and the community.

RMJM believe that through collaboration, passion and design excellence, the Music Box at Stevenson College now provides a home and a workshop for students and the community to explore and extend their creative dreams.”

The Music Box community programme begins in October, offering singing classes, guitar and rock music workshops. The performance space is also available to hire for events such as gigs, dances and cabaret nights.

Stevenson College Edinburgh Stevenson College Edinburgh is one of the largest FE Colleges in Scotland, providing a range of courses under six Faculty areas. Stevenson welcomes up to 15,000 students per academic year onto full-time, part-time, evening and open learning courses, including 1000 international students from over 100 countries. The Faculty of Creative Arts is a lively faculty of over 40 staff committed to providing the highest quality teaching and guidance in a stimulating, purpose built environment. The Music Box started on site in January 2006. Stevenson College were awarded funding for the Music Box from the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council and a grant from the Scottish Arts Council.

Stevenson College architects : RMJM

Stevenson College – Project Team

Architects: RMJM
Landscape Architects (Building): RMJM (now LAND)
Landscape Architects (Campus): The Paul Hogarth Company
Project managers: James Barr Project Management
Quantity Surveyor/Cost Consultant: Capita Symonds
Consulting Services Engineer: Arup Scotland
Civil/Structural Engineer: Arup Scotland
Acoustician: Sandy Brown Associates
Access Consultant: Tom Lister Associates
Planning Supervisor: KLM Partnership
Theatre Consultant: The dB Consultancy

RMJM is a UK-based international architectural practice with a design-led approach that is successfully demonstrated in on-going projects in more than 15 countries. RMJM employs over 1150 people across its network of offices in the UK, Middle East, Asia and the US, following its merger with Hillier architecture in June 2007.


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