Written by Clare Ailward Regional Director, Manchester

The brief was simple but hugely challenging: design a music department for the college that will be fit for purpose in 2030, and will inspire musical talent to stay with us and grow.

This £1.6m project covers a 1,009m² site, a new build within a beautiful Victorian Grade II listed campus. The existing music department at Hymers College, the highest ranking independent school in Yorkshire for GCSE results, centred around one main room, which had to adapt several times daily from rehearsal space, into concert venue or teaching room. We have loved the challenge of solving that issue, creating multipurpose spaces without the constant need to rearrange, and of defining future needs so that the build is an enduring success.


  • Schools and Academies


Hymers College


Hull, UK


We decided that the main concert and rehearsal space would be this beautiful barrel-vaulted room, rather than a pitched roof, which gives the building its own identity in amongst the surrounding Grade II listed buildings – it neatly marries the traditional with the contemporary and future requirements of the college. Light was important, so we designed to allow natural light in abundance here. But the main thing is the versatility of the music rooms – from the recital hall to the teaching rooms, which can adapt acoustically so that everything sounds great.

Go to Build

Inside the Hymers Music School

“We’ve been so impressed with Jefferson Sheard, it was really a no-brainer. They spent so much time, asked so many questions, so we got exactly the building we wanted.”

David Elstone, Headteacher, Hymers College


To make the building technically sustainable, we used energy efficient heating and lighting throughout, with intelligent controls, overnight cooling, natural ventilation and photovoltaic solar panels to offset CO2 emissions. The main challenge has been that need for adaptability – so acoustics, layout, the ‘performance’ of a space was key. There’s a special feature that I really love – the client wanted music to be audible in the corridors, so wherever you go you can hear these great sounds, but inside the teaching rooms, there’s no sound pollution from any adjacent space.

Go to In-use

“It’s fantastic to see a school invest so much into creating a wonderful environment where pupils can be inspired and share their music. It was in the music rooms at my school that I discovered what I wanted to do with my life and I have no doubt that there will be students who discover themselves, their heart’s desire, in this new music centre.”

Dr. John Rutter CBE, Hymers College Patron


The finished build has transformed the way the music department works. The versatility of space means that the range of musical talent they can support is almost limitless, there are new state-of-the-art recording studios and the central space is adaptable enough to accommodate everything from a full orchestra to a small choral rehearsal. We’re told the pupils love performing there, which is brilliant to hear.

“The architects did a fantastic job of realising our acoustic demands…they are wonderful, and adjustable, and the pupils love performing in here. We’ve seen some wonderful talent emerge – this building has allowed us to spread the musical net wider in this school.”

Mark Pybus, Head of Music, Hymers College

The Team

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