Sited in a sunken garden beside the beach in Littlehampton, West Sussex, UK, these ‘Acoustic Shells’ act as a stage and shelter for the local community.
The concept for the shells is inspired by the traditional bandstand. The first bandstand in Britain was erected in the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens in South Kensington in 1861, after which bandstands became hugely popular and were installed in parks across the country. By the mid-20thC, facing increasing competition from cinema and television, bandstands lost their appeal and many fell into disuse.
The Acoustic Shells reinvigorate the concept of the bandstand as an architecture that can represent ‘sound’. One shell faces the town and forms the principal bandstand. The acoustic design of the interior creates a reflective surface to project the sound of the performers to the audience in the sunken garden. The other shell faces the beach and forms a more intimate structure as a shelter for listening to the sound of the sea or for buskers to perform facing the promenade.
The shell structures have been created without formwork, the concrete sprayed directly on to the reinforcement mesh. The majority of the concrete shell is only 100mm thick and relies on the double curved geometry to span the stage.
The two shells appear as white land forms emerging from the grass of the greensward. This references the concrete sound mirrors along the south coast at Dungeness, and the visually striking form of the local sand dunes.
Flanagan Lawrence won the project in competition in 2012.