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MawsonKerr Architects for Sunbeams Music Trust, Redhills, Penrith, Cumbria

The centre has an ascending volumes of shingle clad spaces
The centre has an ascending volumes of shingle clad spaces Credit: Simon Kennedy

There is so much going on' – Judge Russell Curtis

For 25 years Sunbeams Music Trust has delivered transformational music therapy to people with disabilities around various dilapidated spaces in the north west of England.

The building was designed by Will Mawson as a university thesis project 12 years ago for his Aunty Anne’s charity. The relationship has endured the rigour of lengthy route to completion including major fund raising. The architect assisted on this, founding the ‘Challenge 24’ group which became responsible for raising over £60,000 towards the centre via a series of endurance events.

Sunbeams Music Centre has a strong sustainable agenda based on first principles of passive design; the 600m2 facility is virtually all naturally ventilated (toilets and kitchen assisted), naturally lit and the heating provided by ground source heat pump. U-values are to Passivhaus standards with a large amount of locally sourced sheep wool and a carefully designed south facing elevation to limit overheating. The client understood the morals behind this as well as the long term cost benefits.

Since January 2017, Sunbeams Music Centre has helped 1,500 beneficiaries with disabilities – ranging from children with complex medical needs and rare syndromes to adults with severe dementia who rock and roll every Thursday. All this work is privately funded. Visitors regularly comment that the Sunbeams Music Centre has restored their family member’s self-respect, and given them back their dignity.

See the full MacEwen longlist


Client Sunbeams Music Trust

Architect MawsonKerr Architects

Structural engineer JS Engineering Design

Contractor Thomas Armstrong

Service engineer JH Partners

Quantity surveyor Johnsons

Acoustic engineer DACS 

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