- Environment & Infrastructure
- Strategic consulting
- Specialist consulting
- The Living City
- Happold Consulting
Founded in 1989 by businessman and philanthropist Leonard Ingrams to entertain family and friends, Garsington Opera has become renowned for promoting British talent and little known opera classics.
Its fame and success has grown internationally over the years, and in 2011, having outgrown its location adjacent to the Ingrams’ family home, it was relocated to the grounds of the Getty family’s Wormsley Estate in the Chiltern Hills. The new Garsington Opera Pavilion designed by architect Robin Snell, was created to retain the atmosphere and ‘semi-outdoors experience’ established by Ingrams at the original venue. Offering stunning views across a lake, deer park and the woods beyond, this new lightweight structure features sliding screens, extending platforms, verandas and bridges that link it to the landscape.
Buro Happold’s environmental design team was set the challenge of ensuring that the Pavilion was as sustainable as possible, considering social,embedded and in-use energy , and constructability, for what is essentially a temporary and permeable structure.
With performances running from May to July, the design needed to deal with the broad range of climatic conditions which can be expected during this period. Whilst it was never the intention to generate the level of comfort which is normally associated with opera houses, the strategy for providing comfort conditions involved a three-stage iterative process consisting of passive response, high level radiant heating, and a simple displacement system. While the building is considered a huge commercial success, the real triumph is in the way the client and the audience members have reacted to the structure; although it was originally intended to be a temporary building, the client is so pleased with the results they have decided to leave Garsington Opera Pavilion standing all year round, together with an extended season to the end of September, subject to planning approvals. The structure further adds value by being highly flexible between seasons, as it can be completely dismantled and relocated, as well as being fully recyclable. However, as the Pavilion is considered to be such an asset, it will probably never need to find a new home.
Architect: Robin Snell