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Winged heroics: A winged bandstand at the De La Warr Pavillion responds to natural forces and the exuberance of its neighbour. (Design Review).

The De La Warr Pavilion, by Mendelsohn and Chermayeff, is one of the outstanding Modernist icons, which makes it all the more surprising to find it in the genteel English backwater of Bexhill-on-Sea. Saved from ruin by the efforts of local campaigners (who formed The Pavilion Trust), the local council, Mendelsohn's daughter, Esther, and various funding bodies, this gem is undergoing a phased programme of restoration by John McAslan & Partners and has been reborn as a regional arts centre.

As part of the effort to integrate the Pavilion into local life and Bexhill's summer panoply of brass bands, deckchairs and tea dances, the Trust (which is an exceptional body), and local council, commissioned a bandstand for the south terrace from Niall McLaughlin Architects.

Shaped by wind, and the imperatives of sound and light, the bandstand's giant winged canopy echoes the taut exuberance of the Pavilion. Remarkably, its design was the result of McLaughlins' widespread collaboration -- with local primary children, whose ideas for bandstands were incorporated, and with structural and acoustic engineers to find a form that would project sound without distortion and resist the huge winds which buffet the site. The builder, Michael McHugh of Westside Design Workshops, was an early member of the team which looked at many materials and methods of construction.

The final form, erected to applause from a great crowd of local people, consists of the canopy held on a metal base supporting a musicians' deck. Designed to project sound forward, the undulating canopy (shaped rather like a nun's winged head-dress) was made by laying thin plywood veneer onto a skeleton of thicker plywood ribs. The structure was then covered with fibreglass and sprayed white. To withstand wind loads of up to six times its weight, it is anchored discreetly on the listed terrace by a steel frame with bracing legs which prevent rocking. E. M.
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Publication:The Architectural Review
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 1, 2002
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