Builders start work on music campus

A BUILDING firm with a base in Suffolk has started work on a £5.3million contract to transform parts of the Snape Maltings complex into a series of world-class musical venues.

A BUILDING firm has started work on a £5.3million contract to transform parts of the Snape Maltings complex into a series of world-class musical venues.

Haymills, which operates from sites including Stowmarket and Huntingdon, won a prestigious contract with Aldeburgh Music to help create Europe's first musical campus.

The company has taken possession of four partially demolished buildings which border an area that will eventually house a new, purpose-built performance and rehearsal space.

The 84-week contract with architects Haworth Tompkins is one of the most ambitious non-metropolitan arts projects in the country, and is being funded by Arts Council England, the East of England Development Agency, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk District Council and the Britten-Pears and the Jerwood Foundations.

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During the initial demolition works, most of the materials were reclaimed and will be integrated into the new design. Existing structures will be repaired and cleaned rather than covered, plasterwork kept to a minimum and internal joinery will be matched to the original features.

The centrepiece of the scheme will be the 24m by 15m Studio 1, which will be bigger than the main Concert Hall stage at Snape and ideal for full orchestral rehearsals.

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The reinforced concrete structure is specially designed for the best acoustics, allowing for extremely high quality sound and insulation for recording. When not in use for rehearsals, it will serve as a 340-seat venue.

Three other buildings running the length of Studio 1 will incorporate further rehearsal studios, a foyer, social areas and ancillary spaces over two floors.

Builders will be striving to keep as much of the existing fabric as possible when they renovate the Jerwood Kiln Studio. The 10m by 9m space will be large enough to accommodate groups of instrumentalists, chamber and music theatre rehearsals, as well as being fully equipped for video and electro-acoustic installations.

The builders will also be creating two smaller sound-proofed rehearsal studios on the ground floor, a social mezzanine and work space for artists with an information point and entrance foyer for the public at ground level. There will also be additional office space and storage, welfare facilities, a bar and a kitchen.

All the ground floor areas will incorporate a flood protection scheme due to the site's close proximity to the tidal River Alde and the low level of the site.

Steve Firman, Haymills' regional director, said they were “extremely pleased” to have clinched the contract.

“It fits in with the site team's skills mix and we have a similar appreciation of what needs to be done with the complex as the client does. It concerns standards, it concerns quality and it concerns teamwork,” he said.

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