Coventry University naming flagship new building after city icon Delia Derbyshire 

The Delia Derbyshire building

The Delia Derbyshire building

University news

Wednesday 21 September 2022

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Coventry University is to name its flagship new Arts and Society building after legendary music icon Delia Derbyshire.

Delia was an innovative musician and composer of electronic music born in Coventry in 1937, best known for her ground-breaking work with the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and her realisation of the famous Doctor Who theme music.

She was awarded a posthumous honorary doctorate by Coventry University in 2017.

The Delia Derbyshire building represents a major transformation of the university’s Arts and Society facilities. The complex combines the former Graham Sutherland and Maurice Foss buildings, which are being totally refurbished, along with an exciting new extension hosting cutting edge equipment and spaces.

The new building will have a hyper studio designed for cross-disciplinary projects and immersive studios with the latest virtual reality and mixed reality technologies, enhancing the faculty’s creative, teaching and learning spaces and offering students sector-leading facilities in a unique environment.  

The new complex will also be open to the public with a gallery space, café and events atrium where students, staff and visiting artists can showcase their work to members of the community. It is located opposite Starley Gardens, an urban park created by the university for students, staff and the wider community.

The project provides a direct point of contact between the local community, the university, and its industries allowing the city, its residents and visitors to engage with the creative work Coventry’s students are producing. It will also aim to inspire diverse audiences and participants locally, nationally and internationally with new ways of engaging with creative practice and education. 

This building is going to be an absolute focal point for our Arts and Society schools’ future. We’re hugely excited about how the Delia Derbyshire building is going to take our facilities to a whole new level, and it’s really fitting that we can mark it by honouring the legacy of such an iconic influencer on the city and the arts industry as a whole as she was a woman who heralded so much, by her use of technological advancements in her artistic innovation.

Dr Margaret Casely-Hayford CBE, Chancellor of Coventry University

Delia Derbyshire changed the way listeners and viewers in Britain and beyond think about sound and the sonic possibilities in the world around us. Delia was inspired by the soundscapes she experienced in her home city of Coventry, finding beauty in the everyday, transforming the familiar into something extraordinary, whether that was a knock on the door, a metal lampshade or her own voice.   

 The new Delia Derbyshire building at Coventry University will continue Delia's example, inspiring future generations of practitioners and audiences to further their creative spirit, through outstanding facilities across the arts and a commitment to overcoming boundaries of exclusion by realising the creative energy in us all.

David Butler, trustee of the music charity Delia Derbyshire Day

Delia Derbyshire once claimed that the best thing her parents gave her was her name: it trips off the tongue with innate musicality and a hint of the mysterious. In the ten years during which she created amazing sounds within the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, Delia produced a body of work that continues to inspire and amaze, contributing massively to that organisation's standing in British Broadcasting history.

That her name will now be attached to a building designed to educate, nurture and encourage future generations is utterly apt, both testament to and continuation of her extraordinary legacy. She would be as honoured as she would be humbled.

Mark Ayres, Composer and Sound Designer for the BBC who acts on behalf of the Delia Derbyshire Estate

Find out more about the redevelopment.