Music therapy center serving the needy is harmonious in both purpose and form

When singer Annie Mawson founded Sunbeams in 1992, the artist hoped to use music to improve the health and welfare of those with special needs. After some 24 years of dedicated service, Mawson’s hard work paid off in the form of the Sunbeams Music Center — a 6,400 square foot institute constructed to focus solely on using music as therapy.

Aside from its noble work, the center also functions as an aesthetically-pleasing structure set against its peaceful neighborhood landscape. Both inside and out, Sunbeams Music Center is a bona fide triumph.

Designed by the renown Newcastle, United Kingdom architecture firm Mawson Kerr, Sunbeams Music Center uses locally-sourced timber to achieve not just a visually pleasing exterior but one which scores highly in regard to the environment. The firm stated that it understood the kind of sensitivity inherent to the area where the center was built, which pushed the company to work hard in maintaining its tranquility. With an eye toward preserving its native surroundings, Mawson Kerr focused much of its effort on making the building look as if it were a true fixture in its environment.

“The building exemplifies what we believe good design to embody; passive environmental principles, contextual connection through materials and techniques and innovation in form and layout,” said Mawson Kerr via its website. “The design incorporates ground source heat pumps, photovoltaics, and locally sourced materials such as sheep’s wool insulation.”

Inside, Kerr made sure to create ample music therapy space for Sunbeams’ participants, designing four separate rooms dedicated solely to sonic remedy. Outside of these devoted spaces, Sunbeams Music Center also features a concert hall, an exhibition area, and offices for the organization’s administrative team. Furthermore, several of the building’s open areas feature expertly placed windows which allow an abundance of natural light to flood in. If the provided pictures are any indication, watching the sun set or rise is nothing short of an outright spectacle.

As mentioned above, the Sunbeams Music Center’s bones were mostly constructed using timber felled locally. Coupled with cedar shingles, oak slats, and sheep wool insulation, the building exudes its English heritage while maintaining a function as modern as its design. Though Mawson’s vision took roughly 24 years to become a reality, the finished product looks well worth the wait.


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