Blandford Forum, Dorset, UK
Design of a new music school and teaching block in a setting of environmental and architectural sensitivity demanded careful detailing to successfully exploit traditional building materials. Expedition worked with Hopkins Architects to create a high-spec auditorium and acoustically-isolated practice rooms together with a teaching block designed for phased construction.
This new teaching block and music school was commissioned to replace outdated accommodation at Bryanston School, a secondary boarding school in Dorset which is recognised for its music teaching.
The new facilities will also provide additional capacity to address the school’s plans for future expansion. The arrangement of the buildings forms a new quadrangle which is intended to unify the north of the campus, with the stunning auditorium as the architectural gem.
The site is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in the setting of a Grade I listed building and within a Conservation Area. In such a sensitive context, choice of materials and the architectural language of the design was a key focus. The selection of handmade red bricks with a lime mortar as load-bearing masonry created a structural challenge for Expedition’s engineers. We worked with the architect to push these materials to their structural limits in order to achieve a fitting aesthetic response to the setting.
The architect’s desire for honest use of structural materials resulted in features such as exposed concrete soffits, bow-string and Vierendeel trusses and glulam beams, all of which demanded a careful engineering response. A range of acoustic treatments was drawn on, each chosen to suit the requirements of the specific facilities.
In order to minimise disruption to the school timetable, the client wanted a scheme that could be constructed in a series of interventions over a period of several years using cycles of decanting, demolition, and construction.
With successful delivery of these complex school buildings, Expedition demonstrated an ability to skilfully integrate engineering solutions with architectural expression.