Fryderyk Chopin University of Music is headquartered in a five-storey building in Warsaw. Home to the university’s Sound Engineering department, the building has studios in the basement as well as a concert hall and teaching facilities on other floors. Now, 50 years after its opening, the entire complex needs significantly updating to bring it in-line with current technical and educational requirements.

Fryderyk Chopin University of MusicPart of the task has fallen to studio and design consultancy White Mark, which won a major concept design competition to reconstruct and modernise the recording studios and control rooms.

To ensure best team was chosen for the project, the university invited entries from acoustic and architectural companies around the world. The brief was complex, as there were a large number of rooms to take into consideration including two recording studios, an orchestral studio, various editing suites, lecture theatres and a master control room linking all of these facilities together. There was also a requirement to design an Atmos mixing studio, the first of its kind in Poland.

‘We approached the brief in the same way that we would approach any design brief – with a view to giving the client the best facility possible within the constraints of the budget and the available space,’ says White Mark Director, Alan Cundell. ‘The main issues we faced were optimally configuring the large number of rooms that needed to be included in our submission and ensuring that our technical proposals were both appropriate to the University’s educational requirements and reflected current industry practice. The time frame was very short and we had to pull out all the stops to meet the deadline.’

White Mark’s main competition came from a design consortium consisting of team members from Canada, Poland and Germany. To ensure that the competition was fair, all designs had to be submitted anonymously, identified only by reference numbers, so that no names were visible to the judges.

‘The requirement for confidentiality was very stringent,’ Cundell explains. ‘We even had to make sure that everything we sent by FedEx only had reference numbers and no company name, just in case one of the judges saw it.’

Judging was carried out on a percentage basis, with marks allocated for compliance with guidelines, innovation and feasibility. White Mark’s overall rating was 92 per cent –11 per cent higher than the competition. The university is now discussing the ongoing project with White Mark, as it hopes to start the design and building of its new Sound Engineering department at the beginning of 2014.

‘Winning the competition was a great achievement and one we are very proud of, but the bigger challenge will come when we start designing for construction,’ Cundell adds. ‘That’s when the hard work really starts.’

More: www.whitemark.com

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