Pipers Corner School for girls is nestled in a rural setting overlooking High Wycombe.
When the decision was taken to build a new Performing Arts Centre, we were called in to provide both acoustic consultancy and as theatre consultants. The aim was to create a theatre, dance studio and rehearsal rooms as well as a cafe – all within a carefully controlled budget.
We worked alongside architect Mark Webber of Nichols Brown Webber to draw up the optimum design for a 278-seat theatre. Adaptability was key, and we combined a traditional proscenium form with an ingenious option to convert the pit and create a thrust stage. By allowing for a flat floor configuration, the theatre would even be able to function as an occasional exhibition space.
Acoustic curtains in the theatre’s lighting gallery provide adjustable sound absorption and we created an easily accessible technical gallery incorporating sound and lighting desks. This enables students to get to the heart of the building safely.
PAVA loudspeakers were installed in the theatre as well as in the acoustically challenging space of the dance studio. Mechanical and electrical designers CBG Consultants were our partners installing a sophisticated LED lighting system. The results offer some of the best levels of control possible, and this was recognised when the design was shortlisted for a LUX lighting award.
It came as no surprise that upon completion the headmistress Helen Ness-Gifford and her staff were enthusiastic at the result. She commented, “Early in the process at a crucial meeting Michael Holden, the theatre designer, asked if I wanted a school hall or a theatre. I hope you feel we made the right decision.”
Without doubt the results have provided a great benefit for the school and local community.