A music school opened in Birmingham last year was honored with a prestigious national design award.

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire was crowned the UK's Best Design Design Project for 2018 by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) at its annual national awards last night.

The college opened in September 2017 at Jennens Road with renowned musician Julian Lloyd Webber as director.

However, the design of the building severely divided opinions between the two City Councilors and our readers when the plans were first presented in 2014. One chief of planning compared him to a cheese grater and another said it reminded him of an Oxo cube.

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, owned by Birmingham City University, was built to replace their old home in the Adrian Boult Hall, which was demolished as part of the £ 700 million Paradise project on Chamberlain Square.

It has classrooms, 100 practice and rehearsal rooms for all musical disciplines, isolated performance rooms and a 500-seat concert hall.

It was the first purpose-built music college developed in Britain since 1987, and Lloyd Webber said it was "the last of its kind" when it opened last year.

The RICS National Awards recognize Britain's most inspiring land, real estate and construction initiatives that have a positive impact on the communities in which they operate.

Prof. Julian Lloyd Webber at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Prof. Julian Lloyd Webber at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

The ceremony in London brought together all the regional winners selected at twelve events across the UK earlier this year to select champions in eight categories and one project of the year for the entire United Kingdom.

At the RICS West Midlands Awards in May, the Conservatory won the Design category before being named the West Midlands Project of the Year.

Judge of the National RICS Awards, Gordon Chard, said: "Complex and technically demanding construction projects require coordinated teamwork to produce buildings of time and within budget.

"The Conservatory is such a building … Innovative structural, architectural and acoustic treatments have created a first-class facility that is in demand both for teaching and for live performances.

"The interiors are isolated from the reinforced concrete main frame, and outwardly the building is expressed as three-dimensional superimposed and overlapping acoustic spaces.

"The Conservatory is becoming a major music study site in the West Midlands with a growing international reputation."

Gurdip Chamba, chair of the 2018 RICS West Midlands Awards jury, added, "The West Midlands have been extremely successful in recent years at the RICS Awards Grand Final.

"It's great to see projects from the West Midlands recognized at the national level.

"The region has much to offer and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is another example of the diversity and the world's leading innovative projects that we have to offer.

"The team behind this project should be very proud, as it is a wonderful educational institution for students and visitors from all over the world who can use it for years."

The other national winners 2018 are:

Regeneration and the British overall project of the year

Woodberry Down, Finsbury Park, London

building maintenance

Yr Ysgwrn, Gwynedd


Factory of the white collar, old street, London

Community benefits

Get the Busy Living Center, Melton Mowbray


Mersey Gateway Project, Widnes


Farn House, Bingley, West Yorkshire

Tourism & Leisure

Command of the Oceans, Chatham, Kent



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