Snape Maltings
Snape Maltings is a large complex of grade 2 listed 19th century industrial buildings at the edge of the Suffolk marshes. The scale of industrial archaeology in the flat, almost abstract landscape makes this a unique place. Although best known for its concert hall (the centrepiece of the Aldeburgh Music campus), and for some successful retail outlets, the majority of the maltings buildings remained empty except for storage since the maltings ceased trading in 1965, and were coming increasingly derelict. A plan to save them was put in hand jointly by the site owner and Aldeburgh Music, with a proposal to extend the music campus into a group of derelict buildings, locate a heritage centre in the best-preserved kilns, and convert the remaining derelict buildings for residential and retail use with the minimum apparent physical change. Our approach has been to amplify the extraordinary sense of place by leaving as much original texture in place as possible, and to make reference to the wider landscape through the careful use of materials and surfaces. Technically complex new interventions have been made robustly, extending the organic processes of accretion and demolition that have shaped the buildings throughout their working lives. The aim has been to create a public environment that is both popular and poetic. Four projects have now been completed. Aldeburgh Music's new Hoffman building, the centrepiece of which is a new build orchestral rehearsal room, the Britten Studio, designed to complement the nearby concert hall. The room incorporates 350 retractable seats for public use. A second workspace, the Jerwood Kiln Studio (converted from a derelict kiln building), can also accommodate 80 for public performances. Further practice rooms and support facilities are formed within derelict granaries. The Dovecote Studio is a studio for visual artists within one of the most sensitive structures on site, the ruin of a dovecote located prominently on the edge of the marsh. Its design complements the distinctive architecture of the Maltings in a way both sensitive and uncompromisingly modern. It solves the complex challenge of working within a fragile ruin in a way that unites material, structure, pre-fabrication and delivery to site. The Dovecote Studio expresses the internal volume of the Victorian structure as a Corten steel ‘lining’, a monocoque welded structure that was built next to the ruin and craned in when complete. The building is fully welded in a single piece, like the hull of a ship, to achieve weather tightness, and then simply lined with insulated plywood. The Trask artists’ café has been carved from an existing single storey structure at the edge of the marsh. It connects the various working and circulation spaces of the Britten Pears School and the Concert Hall for the first time, forming the social heart of the music campus. The first of three phases of housing and retail space has been completed, occupying two abandoned buildings around a shared courtyard. One of these contains the new retail space at ground level, with the remains of the ‘turning floors’ preserved at one end, and a conserved floor providing separation from the flats above. The other (which had collapsed, leaving only a badly-damaged shell) provides car parking at ground level within the flood zone with residential units above. Each of the completed projects dovetails with ongoing external landscape works and future construction phases. The projects were the result of two years of careful consultation and design development with local people, planning and conservation officers, English Heritage, professional and amateur musicians, artists and staff. Client members, musicians, and audiences have all expressed huge enthusiasm for the new building, starting with the opening community-based housewarming weekend that drew thousands of local visitors to the campus, and a specially commissioned new work by Harrison Birtwistle, followed by performances that included jazz, Latin music and classical chamber works. The acoustic of the Britten Studio and Jerwood Studio has been highly praised by musicians and audiences. Since then, a wide range of uses, from cutting edge electronic music commissions to performance by local school groups have tested the new facilities to the full, showing them to be flexible, welcoming and technically successful. The client brief was to expand the physical and creative capacity of the music campus with an informal suite of professional working spaces to which the public could be invited as guests. The new buildings enable more people to benefit from Aldeburgh Music’s work at Snape Maltings, including existing and new audiences, young performers, experienced artists, school groups and others. The high level of technical facilities in the Britten Studio permits a far wider range of programming than was possible before, while the expanded possibilities for performance, rehearsal and workshops allows Aldeburgh Music to extend its outreach programmes. Shared spaces have been designed to encourage informal meeting and mingling in the new foyer at the heart of the building. Materials used throughout the scheme were salvaged and recycled wherever possible, both to maintain the sense of history within the building and to reduce the embodied energy of the project. Many of the surfaces were left as found and materials were salvaged and recycled wherever possible to meet an extremely challenging budget, maintain continuity within the building and to minimise the embodied energy of the project. The Britten Studio walls are built of insitu concrete with local aggregate and 75% cement replacement, and lime mortared reclaimed brickwork from demolished structures on site. The Internal roof lining is made up of steel trusses, timber rafters with Douglas fir Plywood roof lining. The acoustic wall linings are boxes from timber frame douglas fir plywood face. Agricultural roofing sheet and manmade slates (laid upside down to avoid an over polished finish) are used for economy but also to maintain a simple, unadorned aesthetic. The dovecote structure itself is fabricated from full size 1200 x 2400mm corten sheets with regular staggered welded joints, into which door and window openings which were cut in locations dictated by internal layout.


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