Ian Ritchie Architects

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Royal Academy of Music – AJ Retrofit of the Year Award

Ian Ritchie Architects are delighted to have won the award for the prestigious AJ Retrofit of the Year for their Royal Academy of Music; The Susie Sainsbury Theatre & The Angela Burgess Recital Hall project. The project also won the award for the Cultural Buildings – Performance and Events category at the ceremony held at The Brewery, London on the 12th of September.

AJ Retrofit Awards jury’s view

Addressing the challenges of an extremely confined site, this project creates two distinctive performance spaces and improves connectivity within an existing historic ensemble of buildings. The jury was especially impressed by the experiential quality and technical refinement of the new auditoria.

Constructed within the gutted shell of a 1970s auditorium, the music theatre is an extraordinary skilful and complex set piece, while the smaller recital hall exploits the last part of the site into which the Academy could expand, providing precious additional space for rehearsal, performance and public events. It can also function as a recording studio. Both elements give vital new impetus to the Academy’s distinguished programme of education, as Britain’s oldest conservatoire, while also making it more public facing. Technical aspects such as acoustic performance and environmental control were scrupulously considered and seamlessly integrated.

A new glazed lobby enhances circulation routes, creating a visual and physical link between the new and old buildings. This has had the effect of opening up the Academy as a whole, improving its ambience for students, staff and visitors. Working within a tightly structured armature of historic elements must have been extremely challenging, but the outcome appears logical, effortless and imaginative.

Throughout the scheme, architecture from different eras is allowed to speak for itself, creating a rich and resonant dialogue between past and present. New parts have a delightful assurance and coherence that will surely inspire the Academy’s talented students to even greater heights of achievement.