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Bradley Van Der Straeten

Bradley Van Der Straeten


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Bradley Van Der Straeten - Nordoff Robins

Bradley Van Der Straeten

A refurbishment of the world's largest purpose-designed music therapy centre for Nordoff Robbins, housed within a 19th century substation.

Exemplary therapy rooms and a fun material palette deliver an exciting new identity for the charity.

Photographs by

Images Tim Crocker









Nordoff Robbins is a charity that has been delivering life-changing music therapy for over 40 years. Music therapy helps vulnerable people communicate through music. Music breaks down barriers of illness or disability and enables everyone to find a voice. Now, the charity wants its flagship centre to reflect this ethos and is investing in its London Centre site to expand and upgrade facilities.

Company directors George Bradley and Ewald Van Der Straeten will lead the design team for the new music therapy centre, a 1000m2 mixed-use facility comprising exemplary music therapy rooms, a multi-purpose group space and a new open plan office area located in Gospel Oak, North London.

"We are delighted to award these design contracts marking a key milestone in realising our ambitious plans for the world?s first purpose built centre for music therapy. We look forward to working with the BVDS team to design a centre that reflects the creativity, energy and importance of our work."
Julie Whelan, Nordoff Robbins Chief Executive.

The original building was purchased with funds raised from a gig at Knebworth House in 1989. Genesis, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Elton John topped the bill to raise the philanthropic funds needed to give the charity a home. Following the redesign, professional services staff will be housed in the same building as the music therapists. This sharing of the new open plan offices will encourage cross collaboration amongst the charity's vibrant staff. (Original refurbishment of the building took place 1989-1990).

The ground floor reception will be further reflective of the charity?s ethos of being open and inclusive. Lots of clients that visit the centre are vulnerable individuals and therefore it is important that they enter a building that is relaxing and easy to navigate. The reception will be a bright and open space with prominent signage. The branding and material palette surrounding the space will ensure that as a visitor you are aware that music is at the very heart of this building.

In contrast to the open plan space in the reception area and offices, the two main therapy rooms will evoke a sense of the monastic. Simple, and stripped back the rooms will ensure that the music and therapy are the focus of any inhabitants. Curved natural timber walls gently embody the space, ensuring that there is a sense of warmth and security for clients. Light floods the space through strategically placed windows instilling the room with a positive energy. And to ensure a world class sound and sufficient privacy for therapy sessions, BVDS has worked closely with an acoustic consultant who has used his expertise to engineer some of world's best recording studios.

Word from the architect

"This is a unique opportunity to create a distinctive place that captures the vitality of the therapy and allows clients to express themselves in a safe and nourishing environment. This will be a place for curiosity, learning and collaboration and will service the needs of both the Nordoff Robbins staff and the vulnerable clients visiting the centre. We feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with Nordoff Robbins to create a new home for this important and vital work."
George Bradley, Director, Bradley Van Der Straeten

Word from the client

"(BVDS) distilled the vision of the charity into a building which exceeded all of our expectations and has given us a centre which provides a lasting legacy for the charity and has created a truly special space for our service users and staff."
Julie Whelan, CEO Nordoff Robbins