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Music and the soul: Music school, Santiago de Compostela, Spain by Ensamble Studio.

Images: Ensamble Studio.


In a world where we have come to regard architecture as lasting 30 – 40 years, this project from 2002 designed by Ensamble Studio, seems to evoke man's ancient tradition of building and inhabiting space, from rock caves to the ancient ruins of lost civilisations. Stone in architecture seems to connect our very soul to the living rock of the earth.

This music school, with its rough split stone, gives permanent form to the equally ancient tradition of making music, a beautiful counter point to the ephemeral qualities of music itself.

The stone texture is the natural result of quarrying and working techniques where stone is drilled, then a wedge is driven in splitting the stone into “scant”. The scant is then trimmed or partly dressed to create the blocks used in the building.

It is part of the intention that the building works at different scales, so from a distance its simple cubic form looks monumental, whilst up-close the drill marks in the stone are almost ethereal by comparison.

Internally the design is driven by a rigid functional programme and in particular exacting acoustic requirements. The use of physical mass, in the form of heavy concrete construction in the basement areas, dictates where the larger performance spaces are located, whilst above, the circulation arrangements become more important where the accommodation is mainly small practice rooms and offices.

A school for Galician musicians, speaks from the heart and soul of contemporary and traditional Galician architecture.

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