G. W. Annenberg Performing Arts Centre, Wellington College

Berkshire, UK

Clad in charred timber, a new performing arts centre rises from picturesque Berkshire parkland – the heart of a new ‘cultural quarter’ for one of the UK’s leading independent schools.

The timber-clad exterior of the G.W. Annenberg Performing Arts Centre. Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

Wellington College was founded in 1859 in honour of ‘The Iron Duke’ – Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington and twice Prime Minister – to educate the orphan sons of army officers. Since then the college has become co-educational and is home to 1,045 pupils.

“This wonderful building will not only benefit the pupils and parents of Wellington... 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.”

Julian Thomas, Headmaster

A ‘cultural living room’, a bright, glass-fronted multi-functional space, bridges the two performance spaces. Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

The 'cultural living room' will stage public work from art to performance. Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

The box office. Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

Dressing rooms within the performing arts centre. Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

Voted "The Most Forward-Thinking School in the UK" in 2013 by The Week, the college prides itself as a progressive educator, supporting student-run creative enterprise including a 24-hour radio station, campus newspaper and its own television channel. The performing arts also play a large role in student life with over a third of students participating in Drama. In 2018 the school fulfilled a long-held ambition, the opening of a new 900-seat auditorium in which to stage its packed annual schedule of shows.

The auditorium seats 900. Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

The G.W. Annenberg Performing Arts Centre forms the heart of a new ‘cultural quarter’ for the school, set within its 400-acre woodland estate. Inspired by Grecian amphitheatres, the circular structure is clad in charred-timber, set in relief against the college’s Victorian buildings. The design by Studio Seilern Architects resolves a complicated relationship between the undulating landscape and accessibility to the site and the college’s existing Christopher Lee Theatre. A ‘cultural living room’, a bright, glass-fronted multi-functional space, bridges the two performance spaces.

Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

The new 2,580m2 auditorium has the highest acoustic, audiovisual and stagelighting specification at its core. We worked with the architect, college and The Bush Consultancy to realise the vision for the space, installing a new powered flying system, high level walkways which will give access to the new lighting and sound infrastructure and a new orchestra pit formed from demountable rostra.

Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

Project Details

Client

Wellington College

Completed

2018

Project cost

£12million

Awards

Best Building in Education, 2018 World Architecture Festival

Image: Diane Auckland / Fotohaus.

Credits

Theatre Consultant

Charcoalblue

Landscape Design

Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

Acoustic Design

Bickerdike Allen

MEP Design

INGINE

QS and Project Management

Thornton Firkin

Main Contractor

Beard Construction

Seating

Race Furniture

Stage Engineering supply and installation

iStudio Projects

Stage lighting and Audiovisual supply and installation

Hawthorn

Photography

Diane Auckland / Fotohaus

Related

Mark Lovell

For more on Wellington College, speak to Mark.

+44 (0)20 7928 0000

Mark Lovell

For more on Wellington College, speak to Mark.

Contact Mark

+44 (0)20 7928 0000