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|Location:||Sussex, United Kingdom|
|Client:||Glyndebourne Productions Ltd|
|Awards:||Civic Trust Award;|
RIBA National Award;
RIBA Regional Award;
Financial Times: Building of the Year Award;
RFAC: Arts Building of the Year Award;
British Construction Industry Award;
Supreme Brick Award.
Our new home for the Glyndebourne Festival channels the distinctive spirit of the opera festival while providing exemplary new facilities for performers and audiences alike.
Timeless yet contemporary, the new opera house occupies the same site as the previous venue, located in the mature gardens of an Edwardian country house in the Sussex countryside. However, the site has been rotated by 180 degrees to better address the gardens, sinking the new building 10 metres into the slope of the site to disguise its bulk.
Oval in plan, the new venue has shallow pitched roofs and a prominent central fly tower. The 1200-seat auditorium, fly tower, stage, side stages and back stage are placed at the centre of the building. Foyers and back of house spaces wrap around these on three levels, giving views out to the gardens, where opera-goers famously picnic in a country house setting.
The opera house’s traditional loadbearing walls are built in Hampshire red brick. Hand-made in old imperial sizes and laid in English bond with lime mortar, these resonate with the adjacent neo-Elizabethan house. The roof is clad in lead panels, while an elegant fabric canopy shelters the foyer. Galleries and ground floor arcades at the auditorium end of the building serve as additional foyer spaces, open to the fresh air but sheltered from the rain. The ceiling and the balcony soffits are precast concrete, slightly coffered, with an exceptionally smooth self-finish.
Housed in a double-skinned circular drum with a shallow conical roof, the auditorium itself takes the traditional European opera house form, with a gently raked bank of stalls and three, horseshoe-shaped balconies. Lined in reclaimed pitch pine, its form is finely tuned to the required acoustics, with balcony fronts specially curved to reflect the sound from the stage. The result is an intimate ambience with an exceptional acoustic of clarity and richness.
By providing a fitting venue attuned to the whole experience of the event, the new opera house has enabled the Festival to thrive, supporting an expansion of the Glyndebourne season.
Sir Colin Davis