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Hunter Douglas Blinds takes the stage at award-winning opera pavilion

2015-12-22 17:08:02

Hunter Douglas Blinds takes the stage at award-winning opera pavilion

The striking new home of Garsington Opera is winning plaudits from opera lovers and architecture critics alike.

Hunter Douglas Blinds has played a key role in helping to create the distinctive and award-winning pavilion, which houses the stage, the orchestra, the auditorium and terraces and is designed to be put up and dismantled each season.

Designed by architect Robin Snell, Garsington Opera pavilion give the appearance of floating over the landscape, the design takes its cue from a traditional Japanese pavilion in its use of sliding screens, extended platforms, and verandas and bridges to link it to the landscape. The use of fabric was key to the success of the design concept and Hunter Douglas was approached for a number of very large roller blinds suitable for external use.

The five blinds needed to be 4.8m wide with a 7m drop, using a special fabric suitable for sun screening for the audience. Although the blinds could be viewed as internal due to the external screens fitted on the building, the system still needs to function in external conditions.

The Hunter Douglas 1800 FTS system, operated via a tension control unit with remote control, was specified for the high-profile project. Steel side guide wires were used to assist the blind and keeping them in position when down.

Due to the sheer size of these blinds, Hunter Douglas had to run numerous tests on the blinds and make calculations regarding the tube diameters and the fabric weight to ensure the blinds would operate correctly. As a result, Hunter Douglas worked closely with the architects, contractors and Garsington Opera to ensure the bespoke solution met all requirements. Such close working arrangements were vital on such an unusual and challenging project, but the Hunter Douglas Blinds solution has helped to create an eye-catching pavilion.

Hunter Douglas Blinds uses the finest quality components and strong and resilient fibreglass fabrics that allow the occupants to see out through the transparent screen, retaining visual contact with the outside whilst preventing heat and too much light from entering the building. This twofold benefit makes the building far more efficient by reducing the need for cooling of the air internally and improving the working environment by significantly reducing glare.

External roller blinds are normally motorised and can become an integral part of the building with the potential for them to be concealed within the building structure and therefore practically invisible when rolled up.

The Garsington Opera pavilion is made from a limited palette of materials - timber, fabric and steel - to combine transparency and lightness with a sense of intimacy. The design also means it is possible for audiences to enjoy the setting and the summer skies beyond the stage while remaining sheltered for the performance.

Since the official opening, the pavilion has won plaudits from audiences and a number of awards. The latest is a prestigious British Construction Industry Award for the best new building under £3 million.

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