Sunday, December 4, 2011

Unusual Rigging Designs and Constructs Garsington Opera Pavilion

Garsington Opera has moved to the estate of Wormsley in the Chiltern Hills, home of the Getty family, after 22 years at Garsington Manor. It is an established country estate with easy access from both Oxford and London. The surrounding landscaped park at Wormsley is both beautiful and peaceful, yet has extremely good access with ample parking facilities.

Unusual Rigging had completed the project management of a temporary 600 seat pavilion housing the month long run of performances by Garsington Opera. Garsington Opera instructed architect Robin Snell and, following a competitive tendering process, appointed Unusual Rigging, as main contractor, to manage this design and build project, including fabrication and construction of the pavilion. At the end of the opera season, the pavilion will be dismantled and loaded by crane onto some 40 trucks to be taken away for storage, ready for return next year.

Lifted above the ground to give an appearance of ‘floating’ over the landscape, Snell’s design takes its cue from a traditional Japanese pavilion in its use of sliding screens, extended platforms, verandas and bridges to link it to the landscape.

Project manager for Unusual Rigging, Mark Priestley, says: “We won the project in October, then had until April to coordinate the design and build and manage the logistics, including all ground preparation works. The pavilion sits on 100 permanent concrete foundation bases, each of which measures up to 3 sq m and has an adaptor plate to which the steelwork connects, ensuring an accurate and repeatable set-out each year. The pavilion has a modular steel frame and an overall expected 15 year life span; it will return to the same position each year, enabling the company to make this investment in demountability.

“Construction of the primary structure and fabric roof took a month, with a further month of electrical, timber and seating fit out. Up to 15 of our people were on site at any one time, working with a 65 ton crane. In addition to the supply of rigging, lighting trusses and chain hoists, which is our regular ‘bread and butter’, we supplied, cut and fitted all the timber – 3km of oak panelling and 13km of balau for the hardwood decking, held together with 70,000 screws.


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