Sound victory in top architecture awards for college music hall built by Swindon firm Beard

May 29, 2014

A £2m school communications centre and recital hall built and fitted out by Swindon construction firm Beard has won a prestigious architecture award, beating 21 other nominations from across the South of England.

The Pangbourne College Harding Communications Centre near Reading topped the category for design and construction excellence in the Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA South Regional Awards.

Judges described the 800 sq m complex, designed by Bath architects Mitchell Taylor Workshop, as ‘playful but highly designed’. The building brings music and IT under one roof at the co-educational school for 11-18 year olds, with an 80-seat, state-of-the-art recital hall with adjustable acoustics, practice rooms, recording facilities, classrooms and an ICT suite.

Beard construction director John Youle said: “Achieving the centre’s extremely high-specification acoustic properties was critical to the success of the project and one of the most-challenging aspects of the build as it required exactly the right levels of sound insulation to accommodate students practising, recording, studying and performing.

“We’re extremely proud to be part of the project team and to have worked with the college and architects Mitchell Taylor Workshop to create this fantastic RIBA award-winning building.”

The BREEAM Excellent-rated building uses aluminium and larch cladding and employs passive ventilation techniques, solar shading, high levels of insulation and natural lighting to achieve design and sustainability targets. 

Kris Eley of Mitchell Taylor Workshop added: “The building is an example of what can be achieved with an excellent team of designers and contractors working closely with a passionate and engaged client.”

The Harding Communications Centre is named after Old Pangbournian, David Harding, who provided funds for the project.

“We are delighted to find out that the Harding Communications building has won an award.  The building was very carefully designed by Mitchell Taylor Architects.  What we ended up with is exactly what we wanted.  It’s highly effective, costs nothing to heat and acoustically is a very high standard.  It has interested a large proportion of the school and we have more young people learning music as a consequence.”

Family-owned Beard, which also has offices in Oxford and Guildford, has significant expertise in the education sector and also builds for clients in healthcare, arts and culture, commerce and industry, elderly care, sports and leisure and defence. It undertakes design and build, new build, restoration and refurbishment projects from £50,000 to £10m for public and private sector organisations.



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