Island Pavilion

Island Pavilion

The new island pavilion and footbridge, completed in June 2014, are located at the centre of Wormsley Estate, a pastoral landscape on a grand scale at the heart of the Chiltern Hills, close to Oxford.

Conceived in the English classical tradition of a pavilion in the landscape, the project re-interprets the 18th Century tradition for the 21st Century and follows on from our adjacent Opera Pavilion, completed in 2011. The Island Pavilion, Wormsley House and Garsington Opera House form a landscape group of “Pavilions in the Park”. The Island Pavilion will be used for entertaining during the summer months of opera, including dining, receptions, art exhibition and musical recitals and has been designed as a container to house a stainless steel sculpture by Jeff Koons entitled, “Cracked Egg (Blue)”.

This project completes the architectural composition and aims to integrate architecture, design and art within a protected English landscape.

Site Location:

Wormsley is located on the Oxfordshire / Buckinghamshire border and extends to approximately 1,000 hectares of woodland and farmland. It is an established historic country estate with easy access from both Oxford and London, which is only 35 miles away.

The site is on an island in the centre of a lake, surrounded by open parkland which is viewed from Wormsley House and the Opera Pavilion. It creates the architectural focus for 360 degree views from around the Estate.

The Design Concept: The Pavilion is planned and located to maximise panoramic views outwards across the landscape. It is set-out along classical lines with its main entrance beneath a portico, a two metre wide overhanging canopy running the length of the building, which provides shade to the facade, and gives access to the Main Room. All service spaces such as the kitchen, plant room and bathroom facilities are positioned to the rear on the plan along the western elevation. The structural form has been designed to express the plan layout, with the main structural supports and roof cantilevering from the western edge of the building. There is no external lighting: The Pavilion becomes a light fitting at night, lit from within by an illuminated acoustically transparent ceiling, or upside down light box. It acts as a lantern in the landscape when glimpsed from The House and by the opera pavilion audience at the end of a


The new bridge ‘skims’ the surface of the lake with minimum impact when viewed from the surrounding landscape. It is designed as an extruded plane, held above the surface of the water by a concealed steel structure and illuminated from below, filtering light through the perforated decking and creating a glistening bridge surface.


The Pavilion is a lightweight factory made product, but in contrast to its nearby relative, the ‘temporary’ opera pavilion, the island pavilion and bridge are permanent structures, fabricated using high quality durable materials and finishes – stainless steel as opposed to galvanised steel. Matt Uginox Top stainless steel was selected for construction, with a bead-blasted effect and as a long life maintenance-free material, is in contrast to the highly polished stainless steel finish of the permanent sculpture. The use of steel also celebrates 100 years since the invention of stainless steel in Sheffield in 1913. Materials, Finishes and Fittings were considered within the pavilion interior including the illuminated acoustic ceiling system, lacquered wall panelling, terrazzo floor, Jean Prouve furniture, and cutlery and crockery by David Mellor. A further external sculpture by Mel Kendrick entitled ‘Marker 4’ has also been added to the island.


The project seeks to continue the experimental tradition of a relatively small project used to advance the understanding of technology and product design. Innovations include:-

> A thermally insulated stainless steel superstructure with insulation filled structural members and composite floor cassettes containing insulation, under-floor heating and floor finish.

> An integrated roof and rear wall stainless steel cladding system, developed with the contractors, incorporating a bespoke panelised stainless steel sheet rainscreen system fixed

through a continuous waterproof roofing membrane using stainless steel precision engineered watertight fixings, now patented and under development for future projects.

> An illuminated acoustically transparent ceiling, flexible enough to be used for the display of art, evening dining and musical performances 

> A completely factory prefabricated product, by necessity, due to its location and restricted site. The project took six months to complete from place order to completion. It is a lesson in teamwork, integrated design and working directly with fabricators, resulting in a crafted product utilising contemporary materials and technologies.

Technical Files

Wormsley, United Kingdom
Robin Snell and Partners
©Graham Everitt - View Pictures Ltd


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