Competition to design a new Music Centre is launched

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Photo: Sammi McKee

The University has launched a design contest for a new Music Centre which will replace the current facility based in the Younger Hall.

At present, the building dating from 1828 and located on North Street, is used for a wide range of musical events and purposes, including music lessons, individual practice times, rehearsals and concerts.

The University now hopes to expand and improve upon the available facilities.

A spokesperson for the University said: “Our ambition is to build a new music centre in St Andrews which would complement the Byre Theatre by offering the range of soundproofed spaces needed for practice, individual tuition, academic lectures given as part of students’ degree programmes and ensemble and orchestral rehearsals.”

The new building will have a lot more soundproof, purpose-built practice rooms than Younger Hall, which will be available throughout the week.

The new facility will also include rooms that are suitable for bands using amplified equipment, which is something that the Younger Hall does not currently accommodate. These facilities will all have out of hours access.

The new centre will also boast a purpose-built music technology suite.

The approved location for the new building is on Queen’s Terrace. This means that the facility’s immediate surroundings will include St Regulus Hall, the former Bute Medical Building and St Mary’s Quadrangle.

A central location “in the heart of the town and the University” was a requirement for the new build due to the music centre’s “close links with other departments in the arts and humanities and its strong community focus.”

The spokesperson noted that this central setting would allow “members of the public as well as staff and students to make regular use of the facility without needing to drive or use public transport.”

With this setting in mind, the University has “asked Scotland’s architectural community to use their considerable talents to envisage a design that is sympathetic and supportive of the environment”.

The design contest advertisement also asks for a proposal which is practical and cost-effective, demonstrates “flair and innovation” and addresses “issues of sustainability, operations and maintenance.”

The successful architect will take the lead design responsibilities and work with a wider design team in order to facilitate the enterprise and construction of the new centre.

Mairi Warren, president of the music society, told The Saint that she is “excited” by this “fantastic news.” She said that the plans for the new music centre are a clear “recognition of how much the music scene has expanded and improved in recent years.”

“I have noticed, even during my own time in St Andrews, that there has been a large increase in very talented instrumentalists and vocalists who all benefit from what the music centre has to offer. However this is putting more and more strain on the facilities of Younger Hall,” she added.

With the current Music Centre used by so many students and for so many different purposes, including this year as a lecture theatre, Ms Warren noted: “One of the biggest limitations is that whenever there is a rehearsal or a lecture on in the main hall, access to many of the surrounding practice rooms is restricted due to soundproofing issues.”

Though she expressed a fondness for the Younger Hall and said that it had value as a large-scale concert venue, Ms Warren looks forward to the improved facilities which the new Centre will offer.

Especially, she added, in its allowance for “far more rehearsal, teaching and practice time, for which there is most definitely an ever-increasing demand.”

Students will have an opportunity to find out more about proposals for the new music centre at an event taking place at 5 pm on Sunday 15 November in the Younger Hall.

As well as Ms Warren, Michael Downes (director of music) and Verity Brown (vice principal, enterprise and engagement) will be present to provide students with information and answer any questions they might have about the new building.

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