White Mark Ltd, the 16-year-old designer of studios for TV, post-production and music, has won a major international concept design competition to reconstruct and modernise the recording studios and control rooms at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Poland.
Since 1963, the university has been based in a five-storey building in Warsaw. Originally designed to take into account the requirements of the sound engineering department, the building has studios in the basement as well as a concert hall and teaching facilities on the other floors. However, 50 years after its completion, the entire complex now needs significantly updating to bring its functionality in line with current technical and educational requirements.
To find an agency capable of completing the upgrade, the project, the university held an international competition and encouraged entries from acoustic and architectural companies from around the world. The complex brief included a requirement to design a Dolby Atmos mixing studio – the first of its kind in Poland.
Alan Cundell, director of White Mark, says: “We approached the competition 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. 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.”
The main competition for the White Mark designers – who have created studio rooms at facilities including De Lane Lea, Envy, Hackenbacker, Strongroom and Real World – came from a design consortium consisting of team members from Canada, Poland and Germany. To ensure that the competition was entirely fair, all designs had to be submitted anonymously, identified only by reference numbers, so that no names were visible to the judges.
Judging was carried out on a percentage basis, with marks allocated in three sections – compliance with guidelines, innovation and feasibility. White Mark’s overall rating was 92% –11% higher than the competition.
The Fryderyk Chopin University is now discussing the on-going project with White Mark as it hopes to start the design and building of its new Sound Engineering department at the beginning of next year.
“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,” Alan Cundell adds. “That’s when the hard work really starts!”