2020 – The Crystal Palace Bowl
Film produced by Nyima Murry and Ella McCarron
Directed by Jim Stephenson of Stephenson Bishop
ritchie*studio has put together a feasibility study proposal to make the concert platform more than a stage and changing accommodation for performers during a couple of summer months every year into a facility that will become a music and creative base for the wider community ensuring its use all-year round. The stage and power infrastructure will be renovated during September 2021 and the major works undertaken in 2022. Ian Ritchie Architects won the competition for the design of a permanent concert platform in Crystal Palace Park, London. The design concept developed from an understanding and recognition of the primary importance of the rich and complex Paxton landscape within which the concert platform is located. We considered that a simple structure causing minimal disturbance was appropriate – a minimal architectural intervention that would be sculptural without being sculpture, bold yet reinforcing and complementary to the beautiful landscape. Its simplicity belies the complex acoustic performance required of it.
The design embodies four principles:
Natural colour, defining modernity’s relationship to landscape;
Gravitas, expressing permanence expressed through the perceived mass of the material;
Levitas, as a statement of the way we can build sensitively in and with landscape, expressed by a composition in equilibrium touching the ground along a fine line;
Simplicity expressed through a single material – self-weathering steel – colour, and a continuous surface.
In practical terms the platform is robust, resistant to vandalism, economic and requires very low maintenance. It is placed in a slightly enlarged lake. Its outer surface is made entirely of deep red oxidised Corten A steel, a hardwood stage, and internally with silver aluzinc panels and a blue floor.
Its stage can accommodate a 100 piece orchestra.
“This is the first permanent orchestral shell in the world with tunable electronic architecture.”
Paul Gillieron, director Gillieron Scott Acoustic Design