Garsington Opera Pavilion
Location: Wormsley, UK
The 600-seat pavilion, for Garsington Opera at Wormsley, Buckinghamshire, was inspired by traditional Japanese architecture such as the Katsura Imperial Villa, and designed to sit lightly in the mature parkland setting while providing a high quality acoustic environment. The need for both unobtrusiveness and demountability led to the design solution of a fabric membrane over a modular steel structure, with timber used for verandas, terraces and stage walls.
The structure for the 30m wide pavilion is formed by a galvanised steel frame. A single layer of stressed PVC forms the walls, which are shaped into curved sail-like forms to aid the venue’s acoustics.
The auditorium has been designed to provide acoustical resonance and envelopment not normally associated with fabric structures. Research into the fundamental acoustic properties of fabrics allowed Snell Associates the opportunity to maximize reverberance and strength in the auditorium and to provide a strong sound and support to the singers on stage.
Transparent sail fabric and timber panels form the enclosure. The ‘foyer’ is open to the adjoining lake with timber and steel scaffolding stairs leading to the upper parts of the 600 seat auditorium.
Snell Associates’ design for the Garsington Opera Pavilion that could be packed up and stored at the end of the annual season has proved so successful that it has become a permanent fixture.
Technical info: PCV partitions
Picture credits: Dennis Gilbert, Mike Hoban, Marcus Dawes