The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama is Wales’ national music and drama conservatoire. Wrapping an existing building with a striking new façade, this existing college building will be transformed and modernized. Won in international competition in 2007, and currently on site, the project will see the creation of an acoustically excellent 450 seat chamber concert hall, a 160 seat courtyard theatre, along with studio, teaching, rehearsal and foyer spaces. A new front door leads to foyer spaces with spectacular views over Bute Park. The project is funded by the Welsh Assembly and designed to be BREEAM ‘excellent’. Our approach was two -fold, to design the internal performance spaces from the ‘inside out’, looking at their acoustic and theatrical functionality as major drivers, whilst in parallel designing from the ‘outside in’, thinking about the civic presence of the building in its urban context. The new buildings are situated inside the Grade I listed Bute Park. Directly across the road from the new building is Cathays Park, the civic centre of Cardiff, consisting of a number of important listed buildings. The design focuses on the core needs of the school community, namely an acoustically impressive sequence of performance and learning spaces, encouraging and motivating the buildings’ occupants. Although the building appears to be a single structure it is in fact three separate new buildings and a renovated existing structure. The client was very specific from the outset that the new buildings would act as a catalyst for positive cultural change and easier department cross-fertilisation. Designed from the inside out, each performance space is conceived separately. The final scheme unites the individual components of the building under a single roof, creating a unified facade, yet exposing the differing functions within. The drama building forms a new façade to the street and the recital hall, clad with a timber screen consisting of light-coloured cedar wood slats, sits amongst the woods adjacent to the existing building. Interior finishes of stone and timber create warm and tactile spaces for users. The core elements of the scheme are unified by a single floating roof, its height determined by the theatre fly-tower. The new entrance to the college opens out on to Bute Park and a treble-height arcade forms a new spine between the new and old accommodation, linking the constituent elements, functioning as exhibition space for the Design & Costume Department and also acting as the ‘lungs’ for the scheme as its natural stack effect ventilates the public spaces.