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When architecture blends in with nature

Garsington Opera Pavilion Garsington Opera Pavilion 
Garsington Opera Pavilion   














Architect: Snell Associates, London, UK         
Location: Wormsley, UK       
 
Set up in the middle of the 1000 ha Wormsley Park in England, the Garsington Opera Pavilion surely piques walkers’ curiosity.
 
The 600-seat pavilion, which was designed by Snell Associates, was inspired by traditional Japanese architecture. It offers stunning views across a lake, deer park and the woods beyond, discretely paying homage to Japanese gardens while revisiting them in a very modern and occidental way.
 
The lightweight pavilion, which provides a high quality acoustic environment, features sliding screens, extending platforms, verandas and bridges that link it to the landscape. It comes out as another beautiful example of temporary, semi-outdoor structure. 
 
The need for both an unobtrusive and dismountable setup led designers to opt for a fabric membrane over a modular steel structure, with timbre used for verandas, terraces and stage walls. While the structure of the 30-metre wide pavilion is made from a galvanised steel frame, its walls are made from a single layer of stressed PVC, which was curved like a sail to aid the venue’s acoustics.
The auditorium has been designed to provide a level of acoustical resonance and envelopment which has never been achieved before with fabric structures. Research into the fundamental acoustic properties of fabrics provided Snell Associates with the opportunity to maximize reverberation in the auditorium, while allowing for a powerful sound system that supports the singers on stage.
Transparent sail fabric and timbre panels form the enclosure. The ‘foyer’ is open to the adjoining lake with timbre and steel scaffolding stairs leading to the upper parts of the auditorium.
 
Snell Associates’ construction, which was designed to be packed up and stored at the end of the annual season, has proved so successful that it has now become a permanent fixture.
 
Technical info: PCV partitions
Picture credits: Dennis Gilbert, Mike Hoban, Marcus Dawes