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Curtain rises on circular auditorium

Jez Abbott
Monday 28 Jan 2019

A new £15m performing arts centre has opened at Wellington College in Berkshire.

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.

GW Annenberg Performing Arts Centre was designed with high quality acoustics and efficient circulation in mind. The centre is a venue for students to showcase their creative talents.

Its shape of the auditorium was chosen to give an intimacy to performances, both for the audience and for young performers not wanting to feel overwhelmed by a large auditorium.

The auditorium caters to multiple uses during and out of school times. 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 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.

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