G W Annenberg Performing Arts Centre, Wellington College, Crowthorne, Berkshire
The new Performing Arts Centre by Studio Seilern Architects – the design of which has been informed by Greek amphitheatres - is nestled within a heathland landscape, enhancing the woodland character of the site and strengthening the visual and physical connection between the Cultural Quarter and the wider campus.
Spoil generated from the building work was used to create a series of gentle undulations, or mounds, to direct movement and to accentuate views to and from the Performing Arts Centre. The mounts are planted with heaths, ferns and native grasses and the slopes with carefully placed and picturesquely shaped Scots, Mugo pines and Black pines. These trees and their canopies frame views to and from the South Front and the New Performing Arts Centre, and complement the Victorian planting in the college grounds. Low cherry laurel hedges – like the clipped c19th hedges found in the Master’s Garden – edge many of the paths.
Pedestrian priority is encouraged throughout this area. The main approach to the ‘Cultural Living Room’ is a broad gravel-bound path which sweeps gently down to the Entrance Plaza. Open in character, it provides a clear perimeter to the ‘Drum’ of the Performing Arts Centre.
Photos © Kanipak Architectural Photography, www.kanipak.com