In June the Dulwich Society held a Summer Drinks evening at Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Colour Palace. Designed by architects Pricegore and artist designer Yinka llori, the pavilion formed a striking and colourful venue for the occasion. In fine weather the pavilion is a great space, affording light and shade and interest. In wet weather it is a disaster.
So bad luck for the Dulwich Society who chose an evening of heavy rain to test the adequacy of the pavilion to stand up to the elements. Unfortunately, it was found lacking. While it was reasonable dry directly beneath its roof, the open sided design allowed rain to penetrate thereby limiting the entertaining space. As a consequence the arranged performance by The Friends Musick, a Tudor costumed madrigal group, had to be transferred to the Linbury Room . Once seated there, the audience warmed both to the singing, which was arranged with a nod towards the Alleyn 400th anniversary celebrations, and physically now that it was sheltered from the elements.
The Friends Musick was formed by Annie Bright, a local resident who has been in the theatrical profession all her life, mainly as a singer but also as an actress and running a drama tuition agency for child actors - Keira Knightley was her first pupil. Annie has served for over thirty years as a member of Equity’s council, the profession’s union, and is a former vice-president. She was a key figure in fund-raising for both the Globe and the Rose theatre campaigns on Bankside - Edward Alleyn’s stamping ground - so we asked her to recall her part in them. Her article can be found on page 8.
With regard to the inadequacies of the pavilion; it was not only members of the Dulwich Society who got wet, the coffee bar and ticket counter located in the pavilion were also partially flooded whenever in rained.
it was Dulwich Picture Gallery’s second hosting of the winner of the design of a pavilion in connection with the London Festival of Architecture - a month long celebration of architectural excellence and competition. The Festival claims to be the largest such event in the world. All the more reason, it appeared in practice, to ensure the design brief added the word ‘shelter’ to its instructions. The dictionary definition of a pavilion is ‘a summer house or other decorative building used as a shelter in a park or large garden.’ - seems pretty clear - it is basically a shelter with a view, and neither of the last two pavilions can be described as that however attractive they might appear in fine weather.
This mistaken concept seems to have permeated into the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL. First year Engineering & Architectural Design MEng students erected their versions of a pavilion in the grounds of Dulwich Picture Gallery and only one of the three designs named The Expandables seemed to afford any weather protection.
The students design brief was to construct a pavilion which ‘reflects on how people gather, interact and exist as a community’.
A bit like the Dulwich Society then!