Wong Avery Music Gallery, Trinity Hall, Cambridge

Wong Avery Music Gallery

Award winning, Wong Avery Music Gallery, is a music practice and performance space for Trinity Hall, Cambridge. The stone-built music space sits in the centre of Avery Court, on the College’s central Cambridge site, adjacent to several listed buildings including the chapels of both Trinity Hall and Clare College. Harrison Goldman faced the technical challenges of this stone load bearing construction, made of thin stone columns, allowing the entrance of natural light.

Wong Avery Music Gallery

GROUND FLOOR – technical description.
Ground floor internal finishes include regularly spaced 405mmx75mm load bearing stone columns arranged perpendicularly to a Greek-Cross shaped performance and audience space. The stone columns are cut into, and structurally bonded with, the blockwork walls, and provide substantial lateral stiffness. The ground floor columns are the core of the structure, bearing the load of the upper concrete slab and glazed lantern. Harrison Goldman designed a unique and flexible fixing system where the stone columns also acted as anchor points for a metal channel system contained within the 80mm insulated cavity, which restrains both the external 40mm thick stone cladding and other services including drainage. The insulation, the waterproofing breathing membrane and installations such as the rain water pipes, were installed between the internal stone columns and the external stone cladding.
For this reason, the relationship between the internal stone columns and the external stone cladding and the metal ties that connect the stone columns with the external cladding, were exhaustively studied, to avoid surface condensation inside the building.

Wong Avery Music Gallery

LANTERN – technical description.
A glazed lantern in the central bay of the Greek Cross is different. The lantern was designed to bringing natural light into the centre of the plan, where performances and recitals take place. Visually, the cubic lantern distributes a continuous sequence of thin stone columns with glazed windows in each column bay, this gives the impression that the thin lantern columns are load bearing, but you will be astonished to realize the lantern columns rest …on air!

Finding an appropriate technical solution to bear the load of the internal lantern stones was a real challenge. Harrison Goldman proposed and designed a complex load bearing solution, which was able to accommodate both vertical and horizontal lantern stones, (thus the look of floating on air) but the design continues to be challenging because the bottom surface of each column is visible, which meant Harrison Goldman could not load the stone from the base, so we designed a clever loading system, where each stone column rests on a T shape profile. The T shape profiles are accommodating and are resin filled inside a notch in the back face of the bottom stone of each column. Being this face the only non-visible face of the stone.

Wong Avery Music Gallery

CEILING – technical description.
The interconnected ceiling lattice is cut to very tight tolerances. Each part of the stone lattice is suspended on two bolts hanging from the prefabricated matching steelwork forming the roof above, passing through the depth of stone, and mechanically anchored towards the exposed lower face. Another interesting point which required a detailed study and complex solution was the thin stone fins, dropping perpendicular from the ceiling.

Wong Avery Music Gallery


Stones form the maximum protagonist of the construction material for this building. The acoustic performance of the internal stone, is very important for a building dedicated to music. Three different types of limestone were examined in a reverberation chamber test. The Jordan’s Basebed limestone was chosen for the interior columns, after having the best results, due to a more homogeneous finish. The external primary frame and lantern columns, used the same limestone, to match with the internal columns. The external cladding is Grove Whitbed limestone, chosen for its unusual character of significant shell inclusions and voids, this gives the stone an interesting textural appearance.

The external plinths are granite stones, as they are considerably less porous to water than limestone. The Delank Granite chosen, has a warmish tone which compliments both types of Portland limestones used. The other limestone is Haysome Spangle Purbeck, used exclusively for flooring. Two limestones; Albion Jordans Basebed and Grove Whitbed were quarried in Portland, Dorset. The other limestone, Haysome Spangle Purbeck, Dorset. The granite was quarried in Cornwall.

Stones used in the project were all quarried in England, illustrating some important points: the stones perform perfectly in the UK climate; transportation of the stones to Cambridge was minimal; this combination considerably reduced the carbon footprint for this building. The quarries also operate to a high ethical standard with Health & Safety, pay, working and environmental conditions all at the forefront. This gives the client a guarantee of excellent working practices, with a low carbon product of the highest quality and standard. Everyone can be confident of its ethical and sustainable credentials. This new, modern stone building, is a solid investment for future generations of students and performers at Trinity Hall College.

Project Team
Harrison Goldman, Stone Consultant & Design Engineer, partnered with Brown & Ralph, Stonemasonry Contractor. Barnes Construction and Niall McLaughlin Architects.

To quote Sir David Attenborough: ‘It is possible to achieve much more working with others than any
of us can achieve alone’.