Good acoustics for Art and Design

Bedales School is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the edge of the South Downs National Park in England. Recently, new buildings were opened for the teaching of Art and Design. Designed by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, these draw their reference from traditional agricultural buildings with clipped gables and simple standing-seam metal roofs, defining a series of connected barn forms.

Troldtekt, Bedales School of Art and Design
Photo: Hufton+Crow

Materials were used in their natural state throughout, such as a lattice timber screen which shelters the entrance canopy and external walkway, all creating a welcoming gesture on approach to the building.

This theme is also reflected in the materials used internally. These are mainly renewable natural products, such as sustainably sourced timber for cladding and high-performance wood wool panels for acoustics, all of which help to reduce any embodied carbon in the construction.

Making an important contribution to the dramatic pitched ceilings are the high performance Troldtekt panels installed to absorb sound and improve acoustics.  On one side, natural light is maximised so the need for artificial lighting is reduced. In what is otherwise a lightweight building, the thermal mass of exposed concrete surfaces contribute to a stable internal temperature.

The form and east-west orientation of the pitched roofs on the upper floors of the five new buildings defines a series of carefully scaled, north-lit studio spaces for a wide range of group sizes and activities. On the ground floor, heavier duty craft-based design subjects are taught alongside jewellery and fashion design.

A connection to the outdoors characterises much of Bedales life, and consequently all circulation is external, across covered decks on both sides of the building that double as places to draw, paint, sculpt or just relax and contemplate the environment.


“The new Art & Design Building has allowed students to work much more efficiently when doing fashion design as there is now a place for every facility rather than having to jump around floors and especially set up machines when wanting to use them. It has allowed us to take fashion design much further, working more effectively than ever. The ceilings have a wonderful industrial feel and the windows that face Outdoor Work let in great light, to create really inspirational spaces. The new Art & Design Building is outstanding compared with anything else I have seen before at any other school or college."
Quote: Olly Shinder – Sixth form student of Fashion Design and Art

“Having benefitted from a high degree of internal and external consultation, our new Art & Design Building stands out as one of the finest buildings in our architecturally rich environment; it is a further reminder of the school’s commitment to creating teaching spaces that are as beautiful as they are useful. The building is a fantastic enhancement to the school’s estate and its design, broad range of art and design facilities and location have created new opportunities for collaborative working and links with the neighbouring Outdoor Work Department in the Barnyard.”
Quote: Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

“We love our new Art & Design building and are extremely grateful to all those who helped turn our initial ideas into such a wonderful and inspiring place for teaching and learning. It stands out as one of the finest buildings in our architecturally rich environment and is a further reminder of the school’s commitment to creating buildings that are as beautiful as they are useful.”
Quote: Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools