Cedar shingles help enhance the sound of music at Cumbrian therapy centre

Marley’s Western Red Cedar Shingles have been specified internal and external building material for an award-winning music therapy centre that is helping to make a real difference to people of all ages.

Created near Penrith in the Lake District, the Sunbeams Music Centre is a 600m sq. therapy centre which houses a number of meeting rooms, therapy rooms, a recording studio and a performance space, as well as administration facilities, supporting over 1,500 people each month.

One of the critical objectives for the centre’s design was to ensure it sat seamlessly within its local environment. This led the design team at MawsonKerr to the use of natural building materials; the extensive use of Marley’s Western Red Cedar Shingles has helped achieve this perfectly.

Marley’s Western Red Cedar Shingles delivered a renewable and sustainable cladding solution for the centre, providing one of the lowest carbon footprints of any widely used building product. In addition, the colour blend ensures the centre fits seamlessly into the local environment.

A primary design theme was the wish to connect the inside of the centre with the exterior facade, and the use of cedar shingles both internally and externally brings with it a connected symmetry that accentuates the building’s positioning within the landscape. In addition, the natural aesthetics of timber add to the welcoming vibe the building designers wished to create.

The unique design is the fulfilment of an original vision by the centre’s architect, Will Mawson co-founder of MawsonKerr Architects. He says:

“The simple concept of running exterior materials internally encountered a number of technical challenges especially given the sensitive nature of the buildings use. We worked with Marley and their technical team on the specification to ensure the enduring natural qualities of the timber shingle were not lost. We have been able to put the use of Marley’s Western Red Cedar Shingles at the heart of the Sunbeams Music Therapy Centre as a welcoming, natural and wholly appropriate building material solution.”

As part of the project’s conceptualisation, MawsonKerr, who were crowned Architect of the Year at the 2017 Structural Timber Awards following the success of the project, worked with music therapy charity Sunbeams Music Trust to help design and develop a true community building, which is now enhancing the daily experience of young and old who find music therapy supportive when confronting challenging neurological conditions such as childhood Alzheimer’s and dementia in older people.

“The Sunbeams Music Centre is the culmination of 13 years work as I first started working on an original design as part of a university project. Over time the charity has acquired the funding to establish the new centre, which gives it the ability to provide badly needed therapeutic services within a natural, bespoke and welcoming setting.”

Will Mawson said:

“Timber is a warm material and can enhance well-being and generate a sense of calm. The building has to offer a sense of belonging so that those visiting for therapy and support feel at home there and the important work carried out is managed within a peaceful setting. By using the timber to draw together the interior spaces and exterior look, we have successfully brought the entire building together as a whole which also helps the centre’s visitors to orientate themselves and navigate the internal spaces far more easily.”

The sustainable characteristics of cedar shingles were another major plus point, helping to underpin the long-term and supportive values of the centre. With a 25-year lifespan, not only does cedar shingle offer hard-wearing performance within a heavily-used facility, they promise longevity as well. This is an important factor for the charity where cost effectiveness is a key consideration.

Furthermore, the Marley’s Western Red Cedar Shingles, which are Certi-grade accredited as ‘Blue Label’ by the CSSB (Cedar Shingle and Shake Bureau) were specified as they guarantee the highest quality shingles and are PEFC accredited. Furthermore, the shingles specified were also treated with MicroPro®, a clear treatment which not only protects against wood rooting fungi and insect attacks, but also lets the shingle weather naturally without any staining sometimes associated with other treatments, and can deliver an extended life span of 40 years.

Daniel Redfern Marketing Campaign Manager from Marley said:

“Having worked alongside MawsonKerr from the onset of the project we were able to suggest a suitable cladding solution which not only complemented the wider surroundings, but which also helped meet the design vision for the project. Meeting regularly with the architect and contractors involved in the project meant we were able to offer extended support on some of the key benefits and considerations associated with Cedar Shingles in order to bring the design vision to life.”