Performance Arts Centre

Performance Arts Centre

So far its been an interesting and varied year at Grainge Architects and we thought you may like to know about one of our recently completed projects that we are particularly proud of….

“Vision: Tremough – Creating a world class campus

In order to accommodate the merger of Dartington College of Arts and University College Falmouth, the Tremough Development Vehicle seeks to build a new world class facility for the performing arts on land at the Tremough Campus, Penryn, Cornwall. The building will become a new contemporary centre for distinctive practice-led learning methods and will provide bespoke facilities for musician, theatre, dancers and choreographers. The building should respond to the landscape and orientation to create an environmentally responsible building allowing a coherent yet extendable composition within the context of the developing Masterplan”


Grainge Architects received the design in 2008 and teamed up with Leadbitter Construction to provide technical design in collaboration with Airey & Coles (structure), Hoare Lea (building services) & Rathbone Partnership (landscape).

The new £19M Performance Centre was carefully designed to provide state-of-the-art facilities for Music, Dance and Theatre students.

Grainge worked with Leadbitter Construction in developing various construction techniques in response to a tight programme ensuring all aesthetic requirements were met. The building consists primarily of a loadbearing concrete and steel frame with non-structural infill panels and external cladding with differing finishes of slate, render, timber, curtain walling and brick. Also variety of internal finishes to meet robustness, acoustic and fire requirements.

The challenge of providing acoustically sound internal and external walls was resolved through combined use of masonry and drywall construction methods developed in consultation with acoustic specialists and specialist subcontractors.

The challenge to provide an ‘open’ building, whilst maintaining security and emergency fire escape where required, were resolved through development with the client, building control and specialist subcontractors.

The building is designed to accommodate and maximize the natural sloping nature of the site. This posed various challenges with regard to providing level access for Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Through development with a specialist DDA consultant throughout the design development process, potential problems were focused upon and ironed-out through careful detailing and through development of an access management scheme developed in liaison with the client.

The building is designed as a series of linked clusters located in the landscape and comprises of three main floors. Circulation spaces run below glass shards that bring light into the deep plan below and allow natural ventilation. The volumes of the building help to create an environment for informal interchange and with a gross floor area of 4161sqm it can be used by around 530 students and staff.

The large double height dance and theatre studios, with variable raked seating options and fully sprung Harlequin floors, are situated on the lower ground floor. Smaller single story theatre studios are situated off a mezzanine gallery partially cut into the hillside.

The double height music studios are situated on the upper ground floor at entrance level. The third dance studio and office area are situated in a separate block at ground floor level, and connected to the main building on the lower levels via one of the ‘shards’.

The main entrance is at upper ground floor level where an informal landscaped courtyard provides views across the landscape. The flat roof above the main theatre studio incorporates a green roof area planted as a wild flower meadow habitat.

The building takes sustainability seriously and contains a number of features designed to increase its energy efficiency such as maximizing natural daylight and ventilation, using locally sourced materials, a ‘Green’ roof with carefully selected wild flower seeding, providing surface water drainage attenuation, solar shading to minimize solar gain and a building form that works closely with existing site topography to minimize ground engineering works. All of which has achieved a BREEAM “excellent” rating.

The surrounding landscape incorporates a water-retention pond linked to the storm water drainage from the building designed to slow the flow of water from building to water-course, making use of the steeply sloping site. Rathbone Partnership were employed to create a variety of planting to enhance habitat around the building and pond area to maximize species for BREEAM.

Project page on main website


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