Hopkins Architects’ Music School at King’s College School in Wimbledon


Ian Latham

Airey Spaces, Hopkins Architects

The deployment of the building envelope to enclose, structure and temper space in an integrated, legible and harmonious manner is a hallmark of Hopkins Architects’ work – the container can become the architecture, or at least play a key facilitating role. Every material, component and junction is selected, designed, resolved and made to work hard, and every millimetre justified, and this is certainly the case with the new Music School at King’s College School in Wimbledon.


The form of the intervention derives from a rational diagram in plan and section, with two pavilions and a linear block, all interlinked by a lower, top-lit realm of circulation, dispersed to best enhance the site situation and fulfill the brief. Brick walls with steel posts form the first storey throughout, setting a datum above which rise the three component buildings as a hierarchy. The largest, containing an auditorium with tiered seating for 200, rises to triple-height to achieve the necessary acoustic volume. The secondary, double-height rehearsal room sits over music classrooms, with perimeter windows raising its roof structure above the brick datum. The linear two-storey ‘service’ block contains a range of classrooms and music practice rooms, plus a porter’s lodge and flat above.


The concert hall is enclosed by brick perimeter walls and a triangulated diagrid structure of glulam and steel components, canted to support a flat roof and braced internally by slender ties. The inner face of the structure is finished with a veneer of American white oak, and infilled with triangular panels formed of up to three perforated and one solid layers that tune the acoustic according to their location, essentially to achieve higher reflectance around the stage and greater diffusion behind the audience. Rather than simply wrapping the roof structure in sheet metal, the architects opted for a tiled finish, with bespoke shapes developed with manufacturer Tudor Roof Tiles arranged in patterns to represent the triangulated structure behind. The tiles were produced with two colour mixes to avoid a uniform appearance, with the final blend consisting of a roughly 70:30 ratio of dark to light. Also resonating with local traditions, a Charnwood Hampshire Red brick is used, in English bond with lime mortar (the cautious contractor insisted on expansion joints, which the architects have done well to hide).


Having visited a number of other school music buildings, the architects felt there was a need to provide views out of the main auditorium for the audience but not for the performers, so they devised a series of angled bays, half glazed and half blind, to achieve this, while also articulating the otherwise blind facades, and incorporating escape doors. The rehearsal room has a perimeter clerestorey of sealed and openable windows and overhead rooflights with blinds, and features a glulam diagrid structure similar to the main audiorium.

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Hopkins Architects
Structural engineer
Services engineer
Chapman BDSP
Costs, PM
Equals Consulting
Acoustic/AV engineer
Adrian James Acoustics
Tile/brick consultant
Arup Materials
Simon Jones Associates
The Fire Surgery
Approved inspector
JM Partnership
Transport planning
TTP Consulting
SCL Schumann Consult
Currie & Brown
Planning consultant
CgMs Consulting

Handmade roof tiles
Tudor Roof Tiles
Acoustic timber panels
Decor Systems
Input Joinery, Gildacroft
Glulam timber framing
HESS Timber
Input Joinery, Gildacroft
Timber flooring
Brick arches
IIG Lintels
Cills and lintels
Chatsworth Stone Masonry
Structural framing