Auckland’s Diocesan School for Girls is acutely aware of the benefits of integrating the arts into the student learning experience. The school recently completed their exciting new Music & Drama Centre, which is unsurprisingly located at the heart of their campus.
Architects McIldowie Partners and Upton Architects wanted to celebrate the school’s award-winning music, drama and dance programmes by designing a new creative home for students.
“The school’s Music & Drama departments were excelling in their standards of production and performance, but both were accommodated in facilities well below the Diocesan School standard, in adaptively reused buildings,” says Craig Brown, Director of McIldowie Partners.
“While the classrooms were not hindering education outcomes at the time, the school identified the need to enable a high-level delivery of these important subjects well into the future.”
The new building accommodates music practice rooms for soloists, ensembles, orchestras and choirs, and sprung-floor performance studios for drama and dance troupes.
Acoustically-isolated recording and percussion studios are wired into the performance spaces to professionally capture and engineer the music produced. Internally, each windowed doorway offers glimpses at the activities within the rooms, inviting curiosity and ambition. Every student can aspire to be in the band, the orchestra, the chorus.
Externally, the building design is a deceptively simple three-storey form that sits alongside the school’s splendid Chapel of St Barnabas, built in 1854. The Chapel’s choral legacy is now embodied by its new neighbour. McIldowie Partners and Upton Architects carefully created a contemporary design respectful of the heritage-listed Chapel.
The architects wrapped the building in a gently faceted ‘curtain’ of perforated aluminium lacework, reflecting the rhythm and movement of music and drama. This subtly undulating veil shifts in tone and shade throughout the day, cleverly filtering the harsh western sun through an intricate woven leaf pattern.
The Music & Drama Centre is the latest stage in the school’s 15-year masterplan, prepared by McIldowie Partners and Upton Architects in 2005. The building is a key component of Diocesan School for Girls’ continued development of young, world-class musicians, actors and performers. Source by McIldowie Partners and Upton Architects, photos Courtesy of Lindy Johnson.
Article by Marco Rinaldi