Garsington Opera Arts Hub

Conamar have recently secured this £12m BREEAM Very Good rehearsal building for the Garsington Opera, on the Wormsley Estate in Buckinghamshire. The new facilities will provide rehearsal facilities for the Company and allow it to extend its successful community outreach programme that has brought opera to many local schools. They will also house the coaching, administration, catering, workshop and storage accommodation that is needed to support the complex process of putting on a performance. While the redundant farm buildings will be removed, the existing farmhouse and cottage will be retained as part of the scheme. The new buildings make use of the materials that are typical of the Chilterns vernacular – brick and flint walls, dark stained weatherboarding and plain clay roof tiles. The first part of the building, which will incorporate an informal café with small practice rooms above, will wrap around the larger rehearsal rooms similar in size to a cart shed and a traditional barn. Around the back, the rehearsal room wing will be concealed by the ancient woodland and the hedgerow. With trees providing shade on all sides, its recessive dark stained weatherboard-clad walls will disappear into the woodland setting. On the west side facing the ancient woodland, the fall in the land will allow a lower space for a ground floor, clad in brick and flint. This brick and flint base will run around the whole building with buttresses on the front of the barn wing which will reference the buttresses on the front of the cottage.

The new buildings will follow the height, design and materials of the existing buildings in their appearance and in particular as viewed from the bus stop close to the main entrance to the estate. The large rehearsal rooms will have a bio-diverse (green) roof. The effect of the measures taken will be to allow the building to blend into its surroundings. The acoustic design has been a key consideration, particularly in the rehearsal spaces, and we have appointed a specialist with experience in operatic venues to aid us in the design progression. As part of the preconstruction process, we have needed to liaise with the Heritage officer and Planning Authority over brick samples and lime mortar samples which have been obtained from our pre-vetted supply chain. The flint finishes have been sourced from local suppliers. Logistically, we have had to consider new access into the working area, to minimise disruption to the other site users. We have also worked with the client to programme the works around their opera season.

Garsington Opera