A new £15m GW Annenberg Performing Arts Centre by Studio Seilern Architects has opened at Wellington College in Berkshire.
Architect: Studio Seilern Architects
Location: Wellington College Campus, Berkshire, UK
Client: Wellington College
Area: 2,580 sq.m.
Landscape Design: Todd Longstaffe-Gowan
Acoustic Consultants: BickerdlikeAllen
Photography: Hufton+Crow, Kanipak Photography
From the architect: The main 1,400 capacity auditorium’s circular shape is inspired by historic Greek amphitheatres, creating a building with no angles: a form that sits within its forest setting. Designed with high quality acoustics and efficient circulation in mind, the Performance Arts Centre is the venue for students to showcase their creative talents in a formal setting.
The shape of the auditorium was chosen to give an intimacy to the performance. This was important both from an audience point of view but also to allow young performers not to feel overwhelmed by a large auditorium. The theatre allows them to feel close and supported by their friends and the wider school community. The auditorium caters to multiple uses during and out of school times. The auditorium balcony fronts have been designed as an evolving surface that reflects and scatters the sound to maximise the theatrical experience.
In addition to the auditorium, Studio Seilern Architects designed a “Cultural Living Room” space which doubles as a foyer and a creative hub for the arts: a place that can cater for exhibitions, smaller impromptu performances, creative teaching and cultural gatherings. Fronted by a glass façade, it is transparent and open to the wider campus, giving an active frontage and a face to Wellington’s artistic activities.
The buildings are clad in stained timber, sitting softly alongside the dark bark vernacular textures. The building has already been named as the winner of the ‘Best Building in Education’ category at the World Architecture Festival.
Julian Thomas, Master of Wellington, said: “This wonderful building will not only benefit the pupils and parents of Wellington but will also bring together our local community and our many partnership schools. It is to be a beacon of excellence and a powerful symbol of the way in which the Arts can transform both lives and communities.”
The project’s theatre consultants are Charcoalblue with Acoustic Consultants: BickerdlikeAllen.