Bryanston School: The Tom Wheare Music School


Bryanston School: The Tom Wheare Music School

Project Info

Bryanston School is a co-educational independent school located on a 400-acre estate at the edge of an historic village in Dorset.

Founded in 1928, it features a renowned academic program and music forms a major part of school life, both academically and as an extracurricular activity.

The new Tom Wheare Music School faces a quadrangle and has been constructed of brick and wood to establish a visual dialogue with nearby buildings. The new building is located adjacent to the school’s historic Grade I-listed Main School Building and offers improved connections and visibility to the campus. The design responds to the richly varied context by arranging a series of intimate linked buildings with pitched roofs around an open central courtyard.

Robust and sustainable Douglas fir has been used externally as framing for most windows and as part of the large integrated panels below the windows. The main entrance to the building joins with a glazed triple-height space and the main timber-treaded stair to allow views throughout the building and across the courtyard to the wood beyond. The lower ground floor takes advantage of the level change across the site and houses various spaces opening directly out onto the courtyard. Spruce glulam timber posts and ceiling beams, in-filled with timber panels create a large rehearsal room, the percussion room, and wide, multi-function circulation spaces which can serve as extra classrooms and a library when needed. Throughout the rest of the building’s three levels, timber framing abounds and classroom, practice rooms and offices all feature timber surrounds, panels and in some cases seats at every window.

Timber is a prominent feature in the 300-seat Auditorium where it is used on most exposed surfaces to create a warm, inviting and acoustically appropriate environment. Here, American white oak flooring, wall and ceiling panels join with specially designed oak acoustic panels (backed with sound-absorptive material) that can be individually adjusted to improve acoustic performance in the space. Spruce glulam timber beams support the roof. The fixed seating is timber backed.

Further Sustainability Information: All timber and timber-based products are FSC / PEFC certified. Teaching spaces within the building are largely naturally ventilated and feature operable windows and adjustable vent panels to provide fresh air and help control internal temperatures throughout the year. The building also features high levels of insulation.

Large windows reduce the need for artificial lighting. The design of the Concert Hall was based around the inclusion of two bands of glazing to allow it to function with reduced levels of artificial lighting during the day.

Materials throughout the building are robust and hardwearing and have been selected for their longevity to reduce the need for repair or replacement. Most interior partitions can be moved or removed to account for long-term flexibility.

LocationBlandford Forum, Dorset

ArchitectHopkins Architects

Structural EngineerExpedition Engineering Ltd.

Wood SupplierGariff Construction Ltd


SpeciesDouglas Fir, American White Oak, Spruce

ClientBryanston School

JoineryGariff Construction Ltd.

Mechanical and Electrical EngineerAECOM

Structural FrameCrendon Timber Engineering