Conservatoire crowned

Architectural glazing systems by Kawneer helped to meet the ’critical’ acoustics for Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, the first music academy to be built in the UK for 30 years.

Kawneer’s AA100 zone/mullion-drained curtain walling and AA720 windows were used in the triple-height foyer and as hole-in-wall windows and rooflight alongside engineered acoustic baffles within secondary glazing reveals to further reduce sound transmission.

They were installed by Bennett Architectural Aluminium, which carried out extensive testing to achieve the required sound reduction figures, coming out as high as Rw 68dB for the composite curtain wall systems designs.

Colin Cobb, project architect with designers Feilden Clegg Bradley, said: “The Kawneer systems met our needs for deep-section curtain walling with modelling provided by extra-deep face caps. The window systems integrated well with our brickwork detailing, with clean lines around openers. Acoustic performance of window systems was a critical factor.”

He added that the aluminium composition of the Kawneer systems score well on the BREEAM materials matrix, so this contributed to them achieving their targets in this respect.

Early engagement with main contractor Galliford Try helped the design alignment process for the 10,000m2 building on a sloping site in Eastside that has a 3m drop, and ensured any challenges were ironed out early on.

The £57 million building for Birmingham City University comprises a 500-seat concert hall, 146-seat recital hall, 100-seat organ studio, 100-seat black box experimental studio, more than 70 practice teaching rooms capable of accommodating 650 students, and an 80-seat jazz club that claims to be the first permanent jazz club performance space in any UK conservatoire.

The five storeys are clad almost entirely in pale brick with simple rows of small, punched Kawneer windows occasionally broken by larger feature windows.

Larger ground-floor openings trimmed with glass and aluminium pick out the entrances at either end. Through these runs the triple-height public foyer that serves the five main performance venues, linking street to university campus and lower ground to second floor concert hall.