2020 – The Crystal Palace Bowl
Film produced by Nyima Murry and Ella McCarron
Directed by Jim Stephenson of Stephenson Bishop
In March 1996, Ian Ritchie Architects won the competition for the design of a permanent concert platform in Crystal Palace Park, London. Our design concept developed from an understanding and recognition of the primary importance of the rich and complex Paxton landscape within which the concert platform would be 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 a beautiful landscape. Nevertheless, its simplicity belies the complex acoustic performance required of it.
Our 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 and an oak stage, and internally with silver aluzinc panels and a blue floor.
“This is the first permanent orchestral shell in the world with tunable electronic architecture.”
The first concert performance took place in August 1997.