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18 THE MUSIC BOX, SOUTHWARK, LONDON


Architecture is full of challenges and puzzles, it’s how you respond to a brief, and how you put those puzzles together


Trevor Morriss, principal at SPPARC


natural daylight. The aesthetic aspects of the residential’s interior are contrasted by the interior of the music college however, which, while still clean and elegant, takes on more of an industrial feel, with pipes and lighting often left exposed.


Acoustic separation PROJECT FACTFILE


Client/developer: Taylor Wimpey Central London Architect: SPPARC Structural engineer: Pell Frischmann Planning: Deloitte Real Estate Landscape architect: SPPARC Conservation/townscape: Richard Coleman City Designer MEP: SVM


As well as the necessary visual separation, it was also vital that the different sections be acoustically separate. With two vastly different uses, both capable of producing a lot of noise, alongside the inevitable vibrations from the nearby railway, this was understandably a priority for the architects. According to Trevor Morriss, this challenge wasn’t just about the residents not hearing the college’s students, but also the other way around: “If you think about what’s happening within the college, yes they are generating music, but they’re also recording as well, so they don’t want any sonic disturbance from the outside.” To achieve this, the architects created ‘music pods’ which separated the rooms from the main structure. Achieved in collaboration with acoustic engineers The Equus Partnership, the architects have provided the necessary barrier to block sound travel, and meet the acoustic requirements of both sections, so neither use was compromised.


A brighter future


Alongside its many other positive qualities, not least the realisation of the design challenge of delivering two different


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typologies in one building, The Music Box has strong green credentials. It achieved a BREEAM excellent rating, thanks to green roofing, strong thermal performance with low U-values, and a combined heat and power system which serves both the college and the residential portion. “Its very clean and green,” explains Morriss, adding: “That isn’t something that’s just bolted on, it’s something which has been installed in concept from day one.” This aspect of arriving early at key decisions appears to have been a common theme throughout the project. Rather than a block of flats ‘bolted on’ to a music college, from the outset SPPARC looked to create a building which is a careful combination of elements, bringing them together with a harmony and a sense of fun that belies the challenges of the brief. However, this is par for the course, says Morriss: “Architecture is full of challenges and puzzles, it’s how you respond to a brief, how you put those puzzles together. “Architecture should be joyful, however; it doesn’t need to be austere. It can have a real playfulness and delight to it, and that’s really what we were trying to achieve with this building.”


The project architect concludes on how The Music Box has contributed to this end: “For a site which before was not contributing at all to the street, now we actually have a building which is alive with creative energy. That’s a rare and beautiful thing to have been involved in.” 


ADF FEBRUARY 2019


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