Arts Hub Site - Fly-By

"Garsington Opera gives me the opportunity to feel more confident."
Secondary School Participant

We plan to build the Arts Hub at Wormsley: a transformational resource for Garsington Opera, providing state-of-the-art rehearsal facilities close to our theatre, a vital platform for the Alvarez Young Artists programme and a year-round home for life-long learning and community engagement, committed to changing lives.

It will unite many facets of our work under one roof – an essential development to protect and continually improve our quality and impact through major logistic and economic efficiencies. This will be a step change, propelling us forward for future generations.

The £14million project represents Garsington Opera’s largest capital investment, creating enormous opportunities for the organisation and its community for the next 125 years.

 

Our challenges

Since moving to Wormsley in 2011, Garsington Opera has grown the quality and scale of its work significantly both in the community and on stage, and is widely recognised for its delivery of world-class work as an arts industry leader. 

Whilst Garsington Opera goes from strength to strength, we have identified severe challenges to sustaining and developing our work due to a critical lack of availability and suitability of rehearsal and workshop space locally and nationally in which to create productions and outreach projects.

Currently our productions are rehearsed in East London studios, 74 miles from our theatre, which are expensive, too small to fit our sets and have been sold pending re-development. Similarly, our Learning & Participation work with young people and local communities is entirely dependant on the availability of school or village halls which limit the scale and impact of our projects. Finally, the development of our Alvarez Young Artists, technical apprentices, props and costumes is curtailed through lack of facilities.

 

Our vision

The Arts Hub is the means to address these challenges. There is a rare opportunity to construct a 5,000m2 purpose-built facility at our home at Wormsley, comprising three large rehearsal studios, individual practice rooms, community workshop facilities, prop & costume workshops and a Green Room Café. This will give us the canvas we need to sustain and improve the quality of our opera productions, broaden our provision to the local community, and deepen the impact for participants over the next 125 years.

The Arts Hub will be a space to create, whether by a seasoned professional artist or a local child beginning their journey of discovery in the arts. This resource is unique in an area which is greatly lacking in facilities of this kind, and the project is actively and passionately supported by local schools, arts organisations, councillors and charities who will all be able to use the space not only for their own creation but also to learn and perform alongside Garsington Opera young artists and experienced professionals.

The Arts Hub will allow us to address the topics of Sustainability, Equality & Innovation through a creative lens, encouraging collaboration with people and organisations across the globe to use the arts to tackle universal human challenges.

 

Your support

Garsington Opera has successfully raised 60% of the required £14million target to build the Arts Hub. We now appeal to our members, supporters and audience to help us reach our goal and build this vital facility.

Arts Hub Appeal Committee

Bernard Taylor, CBE DL (Chairman)
Marie-Claire Agnew
Miranda Curtis CMG
Lady Lloyd
Leslie Macleod Miller
Lady Marks
Lady Sants
Lady Stringer
Clara Tucci

We need your help to build our vision

Garsington Opera has successfully raised 60% of the required £14million target to build the Arts Hub. We now appeal to our members, supporters and audience to help us reach our goal and build this vital facility.

Your support for the Arts Hub will enable us to create a facility which will support, sustain and develop our work for the next 125 years. We cannot achieve this without you and so we are deeply grateful for your donation.

We would be delighted to discuss how your support can help this project, as well as how we might direct your donation. If you are considering donating to the Arts Hub and would like to receive further information, we would be delighted to talk further.

Arts Hub Appeal Committee

Bernard Taylor, CBE DL (Chairman)
Marie-Claire Agnew
Miranda Curtis CMG
Lady Lloyd
Leslie Macleod Miller
Lady Marks
Lady Sants
Lady Stringer
Clara Tucci

Architectural Approach

Arriving at the Practice Centre, visitors will see what looks like a kindly Chilterns farmyard, wrapping around a sheltered south facing space and enclosed by the existing cottage and farmhouse.

Its design will be informed by the Chilterns Building Design Guide.  It will be faced with brick and flint work, with oak framing and dark stained timber weatherboarding.  The first part of the building, which will incorporate an informal café with small practice rooms above, will wrap around the larger rehearsal rooms similar in size to a cart shed and a traditional barn.

Around the back, the rehearsal room wing will be concealed by the ancient woodland and the hedgerow. With trees providing shade on all sides, its recessive dark stained weatherboard-clad walls will disappear into the woodland setting. On the west side facing the ancient woodland, the fall in the land will allow a lower space for a ground floor, clad in brick and flint.  This brick and flint base will run around the whole building with buttresses on the front of the barn wing which will reference the buttresses on the front of the cottage.

The new buildings will follow the height, design and materials of the existing buildings in their appearance and in particular as viewed from the bus stop close to the main entrance to the estate.  The large rehearsal rooms will have a bio-diverse (green) roof.  The effect of the measures taken will be to allow the building to blend into its surroundings.

Sustainability

BREEAM is the world's foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and has become one of the most comprehensive and widely recognised measures of a building's environmental performance.

A BREEAM assessment uses recognised measures of performance, which are set against established benchmarks, to evaluate a building’s specification, design, construction and use. The measures used represent a broad range of categories and criteria from energy to ecology. They include aspects related to energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

We are targeting an overall BREEAM rating of Very Good which will put our development in the top 25% of UK new non-domestic buildings and we have a planning condition that requires us to obtain an Excellent rating for water efficiency (top 10% of UK new non-domestic buildings).

 

Surface Water Drainage System

We were highly commended in our planning application for our surface water drainage strategy. Rainwater will be dispersed using a sustainable drainage system, including green roofs (over the two main Studios), pervious paving, swales and soakaways discharging by infiltration. The green roofs and swales have the added benefit of providing ecological enhancements to the development. In response to our planning application, the Council congratulated us on our design and wish to use it as an exemplar model of ‘how to do it’ when advising developers in the future. 

 

Energy strategy

The development will achieve an overall improvement in emissions of approximately 22% over current Part L Building Regulations, through the adoption of passive design measures, high standards of insulation, highly efficient air source heat pump driven heating/hot water systems and low energy ventilation solutions. In addition, there will be electric car charging points in the parking area. 

We will be signing up to a Green Electricity supplier so that all our energy use will be from a sustainable and renewable source. 

 

Ecology

As part of our planning application, we commissioned a detailed Ecological Appraisal of the site and the scheme, and submitted a proposal for Ecological Mitigation, Compensation and Enhancements. Measures include:

  • Protection of the Ancient Woodland buffer zone to the West of the site.
  • Hedgerow strengthening (c. 150m in length) along the East and South of the site, using native and locally-appropriate hedgerow species.
  • Additional hedgerow planting around the car park area (c. 200m in length, double thickness), using hazel, hawthorn and field maple.
  • A series of swales will be formed, as part of the surface water drainage scheme, using a combination of chalk and subsoil, which will be seeded, using a locally appropriate calcareous grassland species mix.
  • A biodiverse (green) roof incorporating calcareous grassland (of area c. 1,125 m2) will be constructed on the flat-roofed areas of the building, seeded with a mix of locally appropriate calcareous grassland species.
  • Bat and Bird boxes – a total of 15 bird and 15 bat boxes will be installed in existing woodlands in the vicinity of the site.

A space for everyone to create

The Practice Centre will be a unique arts facility for the region, providing a home not only for Garsington Opera’s own work with local schools, young people and the wider community, but also for other local arts charities.

Designed with community access at the forefront, the multi-use spaces will foster collaboration between people of different ages, backgrounds and disciplines to work creatively together. This will not only increase the accessibility of performing arts for local people, but it will also increase the quality and impact of projects in the region.

The state-of-the-art facilities will enable innovative new projects to be developed, using digital links to connect communities across the globe from the beauty of Buckinghamshire.