Designed by Rory Aitkenhead ARB, director of ra-l architects, World Heart Beat’s new concert venue and education centre will bring cutting-edge technology and facilities to Embassy Gardens in London, UK.
Kickstarting 2023, the new concert hall will open with an eclectic ongoing musical programme comprising some of the biggest names in contemporary jazz, as well as emerging artists who have undertaken training with World Heart Beat.
The 200-capacity auditorium features the 360° d&b immersive Soundscape EnScene system, designed to ensure every audience member will experience the same exceptional quality of sound, regardless of their position in the hall. The venue also includes recording studios, teaching spaces, an outside broadcast studio and a café/bar.
Aitkenhead was brought in to manage the development following his redevelopment of the Boulevard Theatre in Soho. The new venue is located within the ground floor of EcoWorld Ballymore’s residential development at Embassy Gardens, Nine Elms, so acoustic isolation from the apartments above was paramount to the brief. Isolation is achieved by creating an inner box of building fabric that is separated from the rest of the building structure using isolated rubber connections to the slab and a completely independent wall and ceiling structure. The acoustic test results achieved with this separation far exceeded those predicted.
“Working on this project with Sahana, James and the World Heart Beat family has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my career,” said Aitkenhead. “From the moment I met them, their commitment to creating an environment that nurtures young people, their musical talent and the aspiration to give these talented musicians the tools to truly become great musicians, was clearly evident.”
The performance auditorium has multiple configurations, including three seating layouts, cabaret and a fully standing layout. This flexibility enables the venue to change capacity; allow recording and conferences; and create varying stage positions, giving artists and producers a greater choice over audience experience. The flexibility in stage position created acoustic design challenges as typically the stage position is fixed with reflective and absorptive surfaces designed around this defined stage location.
The building will also enable World Heart Beat to build on its existing track record of providing music education that is accessible to all social groups.
“It is such a privilege to be able to contribute to the community with a state-of-the-art boutique concert hall and a music education facility,” said World Heart Beat founder, Sahana Gero MBE. “Music brings everyone together, it brings joy by linking communities and breaking down political, economic and cultural barriers. We would like to think of World Heart Beat Embassy Gardens as an inspiring place to be, a citadel for musical aspirations and achievement. A welcoming home for all.”
Continuing its deep-rooted links in southwest London and emulating the success of its first music academy in Southfields, Embassy Gardens will provide the charity with a second centre for musical excellence and double its current teaching capacity each year.
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