Daphne Oram Creative Arts Building

Canterbury Christ Church University

Located on the edge of a World Heritage site and within sight of Canterbury Cathedral, the new Creative Arts Building brings together the Schools of Media, Art & Design and Music & Performing Arts.

The project delivers outstanding facilities for the University and also contributes to the social and economic development of the region through the development of skills needed in the creative industries.

The main arrival area with a generous foyer, exhibition space and café (opening onto the plaza) creates a lively hub at the heart of the building. Open learning areas act as a magnet for students pursuing independent study. In addition to the exhibition area, a live music performance space further showcases student talent and provides the perfect opportunity for engagement with the wider University and the community.

Sensitive site

The sensitive nature of the site required the design to respond to key views of the Cathedral and to minimize the impact on residential neighbours. At the same time the team needed to meet the space challenges of high specification music and performance spaces.

The structure was carefully designed to respect the Abbey precinct wall which passes beneath the building, and is revealed through the floor of the foyer space.

The distinctive three volume form was developed through sketches and three dimensional modelling to ensure that neither brief nor context was compromised.

It will enhance the reputation of the city. It shows Canterbury is the place to be to study art subjects and I believe it is a good thing for the city.
Rosemary Turner, Director, Canterbury Festival


The three main volumes are clad in a red/ brown brick, harmonising in tone and colour with nearby buildings. Window reveals have been articulated using reconstituted stone. A large picture window on the south façade announces the entrance to the building from the newly landscaped precinct. We have selected more traditional and formal materials on the east side of the building where it sits within the Abbey precinct and combined these with a less formal and more textured elevation on the west façade which characterises the outer area beyond the precinct wall.


Environmentally the building is designed to achieve a BREEAM 'Excellent' rating, and we are currently assisting the University in exploring the whole-life cost benefit of exceeding that target. Passive measures including building orientation, insulation and natural daylighting have been maximised.

This building is well-sited in its context comfortably, both within the campus and from the street. The staggered volumes play a key role in reducing the visual impact of this large building. Detailed in a crisp modern fashion, the strong geometric forms make a striking addition to the campus, yet the traditional materials keep the building grounded in its surroundings
Canterbury Society Design Awards 2021

Our Team

Project Team

  • Client: Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Project Management: Pellings
  • Services Engineer: Max Fordham
  • Structural Engineer: Integral Engineering Design
  • Planning Consultant: BDP
  • Landscape Architect: Fabrik
  • Acoustician: Sandy Brown Associates
  • Fire Engineer: The Fire Surgery
  • Archaeology: Canterbury Archaeological Trust
  • Cost Planning: Currie & Brown
  • Contractor: Coombs (Canterbury)
  • Photography: Peter Cook


  • Highly Commended: Civic Trust Awards
  • Highly Commended: Canterbury Society, Design Awards 2021