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EXCLUSIVE: Chetham's, New Building Pictures

Jonathan Schofield is taken round by proud architect Roger Stephenson

Written by . Published on February 5th 2012.

EXCLUSIVE: Chetham's, New Building Pictures

THERE's nothing as satisfying as seeing a person happy in their job.

The new building features a specially developed 'Chetham's brick', handmade close to York and a material that gives texture and variety to the new building

Architect Roger Stephenson is a very happy man with his practice's work in designing the new Chetham's School of Music.

He says, "This has been for me the best brief, the best project with the best clients. To design a building of this nature so that it makes an impression on the city for a long time has been a real privilege."

The new school will open for the new academic year in autumn 2012 and will cost around £36m, although the project is still £4m short of its target, and will require that to fit out the large concert hall.

The new building will provide rehearsal, recital and classroom space for just under 300 pupils - there are 74 practice rooms alone. Other functions of the school such as the dorms and physical education areas will remain on the old site - which incorporates the buildings of Chetham's Hospital from the 1420s. 

The new building features a specially developed 'Chetham's brick', handmade close to York and a material that gives texture and variety to the new building. In some respects it reflects the texture of stone found in the older buildings.  

Here's a gallery of pictures showing how good this Manchester building will be. It pays heed of the site, it takes note of the importance of this oldest part of continuously inhabited Manchester, yet it is modern and monumental. 

Roger Stephenson with his fine brickRoger Stephenson with his fine brick

From Old School To New

From Old School To New

Stonework In The Old School

Stonework In The Old School

Chetham's Brick Detail On The New SchoolChetham's Brick Detail On The New School

Arch And Girder Holding Up The Culvert Through Which The River Irk FlowsArch And Girder Holding Up The Culvert Through Which The River Irk Flows

Walker's Croft Elevation AgainWalker's Croft Elevation Again

Even The Door Handles Have Been Designed To Look Like NotationEven The Door Handles Have Been Designed To Look Like Notation - there are 700 handles needed for 350 doors

Flood Gates For The One In 100 Year Irk FloodFlood Gates For The One In 100 Year Irk Flood

Bridge Link Between Old And NewBridge Link Between Old And New

Old And New Over Walker's CroftOld And New Over Walker's Croft - the road stands over the culverted River Irk, the left bank was originally a fortified area, something of which is reflected in the new building


View From New School Back To The OldView From New School Back To The Old

Detail On FootbridgeDetail On Footbridge

Detail Of FootbridgeDetail Of Footbridge

Light-Filled Main AtriumLight-Filled Main Atrium

Working On Specialist Sound-Proof And Sound-Control WallsWorking On Specialist Sound-Proof And Sound-Control Walls

Quaruple Glazed Windows In Rehearsal RoomsQuarduple Glazed Windows In Rehearsal Rooms

Enigmatic Site Sign Not Architectural CriticismEnigmatic Site Sign Not Architectural Criticism

Taking A Break

Taking A Break

View To Victoria Station %28Robert Stephenson's Station Is The Low Building%29View To Victoria Station  - George and Robert Stephenson's 1840s Station Is The Low Building. Roger Stephenson is a distant relation of the engineering giants.

Detail Of Recital Room Walls - These Will Be Covered On CompletionDetail Of Recital Room Walls - These Will Be Covered On Completion

Detail Of Recital Room Walls - These Will Be Covered On CompletionDetail Of Recital Room Walls - These Will Be Covered On Completion

Recital Room CeilingRecital Room Ceiling

Bulwark Stair On Hunt's Bank EntranceBulwark Stair On Hunt's Bank Entrance

Hunt's Bank Entrance View To The Old School Over The BridgeHunt's Bank Entrance View To The Old School Over The Bridge

View To Victoria StationView To Victoria Station

Light Well At The 'Prop' Of The BuildingLight Well At The 'Prop' Of The Building

Glimpse Inside To OutGlimpse Inside To Out

Wellingtons And Telltale Holes In The Floor Where Different Layers Of The Floor Are Screwed Closed To Ensure There's No Detritus Between The LayersWellingtons And Telltale Holes In The Floor Where Different Layers Of The Floor Are Screwed Closed To Ensure There's No Detritus Between The Layers

Roof Detail With Slopes EverywhereRoof Detail With Slopes Everywhere

Strolling In The Sun Up On HighStrolling In The Sun Up On High

Top Of The New School With Slight Building Error In The Top Rail - This Will Be CorrectedTop Of The New School With Slight Building Error In The Top Rail - This Will Be Corrected

View Along The Roof To Cis Tower And Balloon StreetView Along The Roof To Cis Tower And Balloon Street

Chetham's 084Chetham's - the old range

Brick Skill, Described By Roger Stephenson As 'Battered, Curved And Splayed'Brick Skill, Described By Roger Stephenson As 'Battered, Curved And Splayed'

Setts And Sandstone On The Lane To The FootbridgeSetts And Sandstone On The Lane To The Footbridge

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33 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ShuttyFebruary 5th 2012.


AnonymousFebruary 6th 2012.

Superb. What a treat to see round this building, thanks for the article.

Calum McGFebruary 6th 2012.

Looking good - and for once, a lot better than the original impressions we saw. Can't wait to see it!

AnonymousFebruary 6th 2012.

nice looks cool

Roger StephensonFebruary 7th 2012.

Thank you Jonathan- out of interest, I am related to George Stephenson and have the family tree to prove it !!

Trevor JohnsonFebruary 7th 2012.

Roger, did you do that bit of repair work yourself on the wall to your left?

AnonymousFebruary 7th 2012.

I am appalled by this carbuncle. The only beautiful building is next door, and this carbuncle is totally out of place. The fantastic Victoria station facade opposite is also boxed in. All those hundreds of trees killed, a building could have been set in the trees and been a nice addition to the city. But Chethams had to threaten to leave Manchester if they didn't get their plans passsed for this. A public body behaving with such contempt for the checks and balances which are in place to stop this kind of thing. They obviously don't work in Manchester. Anyway, stick an NCP sign on it, piece of crap.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Charles WindsorFebruary 10th 2012.

Never trust anyone who uses the word 'carbuncle'. Likewise 'eyesore'.

AnonymousFebruary 7th 2012.

I'm afraid i have to agree with the above comment. It is totally tasteless and bland, along the lines of a car park yes! It would have the architects of the original building turning in their graves. Who said that Chethams threatened to take their school elsewhere anyway? Its an easy throwaway comment to make and no doubt more council spin that everyone takes as gospel perhaps? At least if they had gone elsewhere the lovely trees could have been saved and a garden created instead. Too late now. Thought this was a green city? Well, until someone waves a big fat cheque eh? 36m is a hell of a lot of money, so where has this come from? I'd be surprised if some hadn't come from the taxpayer. If Chethams HAD threatened to leave ( i cant see it myself) i'd have let them, you cannot be held to ransom like that anyway. Seems to be a theme in this city threats being made to take business elsewhere just like the CIS did allegedly (or did it?) when the massive "NOMA" Co-op headquarters was being planned. Mr Stephenson, do you think George your distant relative would have been proud of this monstrosity? Or was it too good an offer to pass by? I'd love to know what they teach at architectural colleges these days, absolutely nothing about "in-keeping" aesthetics thats for sure! and no, surprisingly I do not think it compliments the existing school one bit, or the city for that matter.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 8th 2012.

Oh come on person, I've you're going to be so aggressive put your name to the comment.

1) There are no known architects as such for the earlier building, it was built in the local vernacular style but a bit fancier as befitted the use of the building.

2) The trees were there because Manchester didn't have the money in the public or private sector to build on the land. They were always a stop-gap - a pause between buildings.

3) Half the world thought that the works, architecturally and engineering-wise of George and Robert Stephenson were abominations.

Good on you Roger. Love the building.

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2012.

4) The Palatine building of the school (which is a definite carbuncle!) is being demolished and a medieval garden will be planted there, so there is no need to worry about all the lovely trees. :)

Jonathan SchofieldFebruary 8th 2012.

Roger what a great connection. Will change the caption and let's talk about it? Did you harbour dreams of being an engine driver as a kid?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Roger StephensonFebruary 8th 2012.

No, I stuck to model railways. Which reminds me, on one of the upper floors above Victoria Station is the most fantastic model railway layout which was used to train signalmen- no doubt you already knew that. I agree with you, the anonymous, perhaps myopic critics should reveal themselves!!

AnonymousFebruary 8th 2012.

Not sure about all the bile in the previous comments but from these pictures it does look like just another ugly modern building, albeit with the token curved wall.

Also, it might just be an unfortunate selection, but in the picture entitled 'Chetham's Brick Detail On The New School', the skills of the bricklayers leave a little to be desired - the pointing is dire.

At least it isn't as tall as the horrendous Beetham Tower so we won't have to look at it everywhere we go in Manchester.

P.S. I would love to know what musical notation the door handles are supposed to resemble too!

GoodfunFebruary 8th 2012.

The pointing is textured for variety and interest. The door handles refer to musical notation and are not explicit otherwise they might not work.

Reader XxxFebruary 8th 2012.

Why do most things in Manchester have to be done in an uncoordinated and disorganised sort of way...???

It is a real shame that there does never appear to be any unity about anything fundamental...

We are Great at partying, alcohol and pick up the pieces when things break down...

Joe LovanoFebruary 8th 2012.

Why do some people always want new buildings to "fit in" with pre-existing ones? How are we supposed to improve our built environment if we don't innovate? If architects had stuck to mimicking the style of previous buildings we would be surrounded by windowless mud huts.
Cities are all about cultural innovation - and that includes the buildings: without it we would all be living in themed time-warps. Perhaps that's where some of us would prefer to be?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Peter EmmersonFebruary 8th 2012.

Quite right Joe. This obsession with historical pastiche results in Disney-esque abominations such as Poundbury in Dorset and Seaside in Florida. If that's what people want, then go and live there.

Mike GrayFebruary 8th 2012.

any marble and granite needed dar marble and granite ltd are just round the corner

AnonymousFebruary 9th 2012.

It's beautiful - i'd wondered about the brick when passing. Maybe when it's finished it will embarrass someone into restoring Victoria - that would make this a really interesting area with Urbis, the old and new Chethams and the work the co-op is carrying out. Thanks for the article, Dominic

MachaFebruary 9th 2012.

Great new building and a great addition to that part of the city. Congratulations all round.

GlennFebruary 10th 2012.

When the building started going up and was partly concealed by scaffolding I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out - and thought the grey/brown brick would divide opinion. Like all the best architecture it's still going to divide opinion at first but I think, judging from what I have seen so far, that it could turn out to be Roger Stephenson's career best. It's so refreshing to see some modern architecture in the city centre that eschews the usual easy 'iconic' styling of Manchester's 'regeneration' era in favour of something more cerebral.

Anne BeswickFebruary 10th 2012.

As a tree-lover, the fewer than a dozen trees (not hundreds) that were felled for this building were Planes. Lovely in their way but very quick-growing and easily replaced, which I hope they will be. I like the building and hope that the overall scheme will include good landscaping too. Tastes and fashions in landscaping change just as much as in architecture. Let's see what we have before we judge

1 Response: Reply To This...
Roger StephensonFebruary 13th 2012.

You are right Anne, there were not that many trees on the site because it was a car park in a totally inappropriate place for one. They were all plane trees and the Corporation arborculturist approved their removal. With the agreement of the School, I selected the best tree from those felled and had it taken away for seasoning in a small timber yard adjacent to Davenport Hall. The wood is going to used to make furniture and sculpture for the new building, maybe, even a musical instrument. It is close-grained an a beautiful colour.

espoirFebruary 11th 2012.

The "fit in" part mainly because this in an extension to an existing building not a free standing one. It is a massively oversize colossus. Bet you hypocrits off on your holidays to harmoniously designed places where carbuncles are kept away from historic buildings, like Venice, Milan, Florence, Nice, Paris, Rome walking around the local vernacular style you hate like you're in heaven with dreamy eyes. Think of the conservative old farts and little people who have fought developers over the years to keep these places beautiful.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Roger StephensonFebruary 13th 2012.

Another anonymous critic !!!! The richness of all the cities you mention is the result of time layered human endeavour.
Medieval gothic standing next to high renaissance- what could be more incongruous. When Wren built the Hospital at Greenwich he had no time for the Queen's House by Inigo Jones and did his best to obscure it from the river. They were only 70 years apart.
For me, there are 3 reasons to go to Venice or the rest of the Veneto - seeing the result of the process i mention above, the work of Palladio and one of the best architects of the 20th Century, Carlo Scarpa whose ability to integrate old and new is sublime. Espoir's resistance to change is an attitude that has been proved erroneous time and time again

MarkFebruary 26th 2012.

Love it. It's quite apparent that Mr Stephenson has been able to build this without any compromises due to cost etc that so many other bland building have been. The quality of this building shines through and already looks a landmark. My only reservation is the color miss-match on the pre-fab brick panels. However I expect these will blend in over time since its all the same material.

Ghostly TomApril 30th 2012.

I like this building. I hope they are able to find the remaining money to finish the plans. Chets is a great Manchester institution that deserves an appropriate building. I know some mediocre Victorian buildings will be taken down to open up the medieval buildings but the loss will be worth it. I've been following the development on my blog, iif anyone cares to look. Cheers Tom

Chris BurkeMay 11th 2012.

This is a dignified and inventive building which lifts the whole area. Although its colour respects the station, its curvilinear form and massing provides a welcome contrast. Manchester has always been an architectural hotch-potch but its tight, regular city plan somehow coheres that variety into a delightful urban experience. Roger Stephenson's pride in his new building is well deserved. Let's hope the surrounding landscaping finishes off this wonderful upgrade of what was previously a patch of real grot! Roll on the Northern Hub which could make the area around Victoria a great city district.

Don AllwrightJune 27th 2012.

Isn't it time anonymous quotes were banned! If you don't like it you should have the balls to put your name to it!

StevenJuly 8th 2012.

I was going to use the pseudonym DON ALLWRIGHT but it was taken, so I chose the pseudonym ANONYMOUS instead.

AnonymousNovember 26th 2012.

If you read the planning application, all trees removed were replanted within the main site. The only reason the trees were there in the first place was because that was all the council could afford to do with the land, it was not intended as any sort of garden and therefore the removal of seven or eight trees should not be seen as a flaw in the building's implementation, in fact quite the opposite as it took effort to replant the small number of trees which are easily replaceable, just for the peace of mind of Manchester inhabitants.

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