Hallé of fame: Siemens tech orchestrates venue award

By John Pinching
Siemens technology helps Hallé venue win top architecture award for sustainability

Hallé St Peter’s, the historic rehearsal venue and community centre for the world-famous orchestra, has scooped a top architecture award for sustainability, thanks to its partnership with Siemens.

The Oglesby Centre, a £4.3M three-storey extension to the historic recording and rehearsal venue in Manchester, won three gongs from RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) in its 2021 awards: a RIBA National Award 2021, RIBA North West Award 2021, and RIBA North West Sustainability Award 2021.

While judges praised the venue as a “highly successful and sophisticated piece of urban architecture”, they hailed the Hallé’s “thorough sustainability strategy” and focus on reducing energy use, which performs well against RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge targets, aimed to help architects design towards net zero. 

Judges said this was a notable achievement because performance spaces like those provided in the Oglesby Centre, have traditionally been very “energy hungry”.

The Hallé credits its partnership with Siemens in making the Grade II listed, 150-year-old church highly energy efficient.

Supporters of the Hallé for over 20 years and major sponsors since 2011, Siemens volunteered its technology expertise during the design of the Oglesby Centre and implemented an integrated digital solution. This involves hundreds of sensors monitoring and automatically adjusting temperature, air quality and lighting to achieve optimal room conditions. Meanwhile, Siemens’ innovative Green Leaf controls notifies the room user of unnecessary energy consumption to encourage them to actively save energy.

These systems, as well as Siemens’ industry-leading fire monitoring device, Cerberus Pro, and a CCTV security system, are linked into Siemens’ digital building management system, Desigo, an intuitive platform that can be used to keep the building and its users safe and secure. 

David Butcher, Chief Executive of the Hallé, said: “The Oglesby Centre has won lots of awards since it opened in 2019, so to be named one of RIBA’s buildings of the year, and win recognition for its sustainability, is the icing on the cake.

“The sustainability and energy efficiency of this magnificent facility was also at the heart of our design. Working with Siemens we have been able to find state-of-the-art solutions to achieve our goals of meeting the challenge of climate change while reducing operating costs, so more resources can be dedicated to nurturing future generations of musical talent.”

While Siemens’ technology is expected to help Hallé St Peter’s cut its operating costs by 35% through energy reduction, it also became invaluable during the pandemic.

Martin Glynn, Venues Director for the Hallé, explained: “The technology has enabled the building to keep running. During the first coronavirus lockdown, while it was closed and all activities cancelled, it allowed us to effectively manage the building and ensure energy efficiency and security. Then, to honour our commitment to ensure our musicians and choirs, especially young people, would continue to get face to face music tuition, the building management system allows us to close off parts of the building to segregate groups for rehearsals, prevent them from mixing and keep them safe. 

“The technology has been tested like no one expected and passed with flying colours.”

Robin Phillips, Siemens Manchester Site Director, said: “I am delighted that the Oglesby Centre has received recognition from RIBA and that Siemens has played a part in helping achieve that success.

“It has been fantastic to be able to bring together our experts in our building technologies and smart infrastructure to create a safe, comfortable and highly energy efficient building, which has allowed the venue to continue to be the principal rehearsal and recording venue for the world-famous Hallé orchestra, youth orchestra, choir and youth choirs, as well as provide a range of unique opportunities to participate in music and other creative art forms.”

The architects of the Oglesby Centre were Stephenson STUDIO, based in Manchester.

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