Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama moved into new premises in the heart of the City of London in September 2013. 


  • London, England, UK


  • Heron Land Developments

Project Status

  • Completed in 2013


  • David Walker Architects, RHWL Architects

Box-in-box’ Concert Hall, Theatre and More Beneath 30 Storeys of Apartments

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama offers world-class teaching and performance facilities to some of the world’s most talented music and drama students. State-of-the-art performance and teaching spaces including a 608-seat concert hall, a 227 seat traditional proscenium arch theatre, a studio theatre, rehearsal rooms and a TV studio suite.

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama occupies the six lower storeys of a 36-storey residential tower known as ‘The Heron’. In order to realise the artistic aspirations of the School, the structure had to accommodate the large performance spaces and support the residential part of the building. This multi-use approach helped secure funding for the project.

As part of the design concept, the foyer and circulation spaces are open to the outside bringing life to the area and countering the lack of daylight in internal and basement spaces. A glazed atrium dissects the School and is used as a major circulation space.

The concert hall and theatre include stages, galleries and fly towers. The concert hall and studio are designed to meet very high acoustic performance criteria using our ‘box-in-box’ design. Both are built within an outer box in-filled with material to absorb any external sound or vibrations for perfect performance conditions. This approach is enabled by the steel-framed concert hall and foyer structures. The theatre’s acoustic performance criteria are met through its construction using a reinforced concrete frame in-filled with masonry. These two very different forms of construction made the use of 3D modelling essential to enable the main structural contractors to plan logistics.

The success of the entire development, built on an extremely constrained, inner-city site, demonstrates the benefits of working as a close-knit team, from client representatives to project managers, designers and contractors. It is a superb addition to the City of London in terms of an arts venue and quality residences, making full use of high value land.