My photography of the award winning First Light Pavilion at Jodrell Bank currently features in the October / November edition of “Architecture Magazine”.
The First Light Pavilion was designed to tell the inspirational stories of Jodrell Bank’s world-leading contribution to science, heritage and culture.
The architecturally remarkable building was designed by Hassell Studios and engineered by Atelier One with the executive architects of JM Architect’s overlooking the entire project, Kier Construction building the large concrete dome and Armourcoat providing an insulated render that optimises the thermal performance of the building.
I was commissioned to photograph the new First Light Pavilion, to capture its stunning architecture and clever design within its location of the Jodrell Bank Observatory centre.
The hospitality industry has seen some significant changes recently. Hotels are recognising that they must build their brand experience around a solution-selling strategy. Brand confidence means being a trusted advisor making customers feel relaxed with every interaction.
The Hilton Birmingham Metropole is the largest hotel in England outside London – with 790 rooms and suites, and approximately 6,000 m2 (65,000 sq ft) of conference halls. First opening in 1976 the current hotel is a combination of two adjacent hotels connected by a glazed tunnel and merged under the Metropole brand.
This week marks the first anniversary since the re-opening of the Hilton Birmingham Metropole following a massive refurbishment.
Earlier this year I was commissioned to photograph the new reception lobby, Guild Lounge, Brightsmith Bar & Restaurant, Executive lounge, and the Arbour breakfast room.
When working with an established brand like the Hilton there is the heritage to be considered, as well as the future of the brand. Sometimes innovative design is not about reinventing the wheel but setting it on a new course.
In my photography brief I was asked to capture the spirit of the design that defined it as the Hilton Metropole Birmingham. I was also made aware that the refurbishment had already been photographed by a number of other photographers. I chose not to look at these.
As I spent time in the space, I began to realise that the most amazing aspect of the new design was not represented in any one particular feature, or area. It was that the soul of the building had been ‘restored’ through the refurbishment, resulting in the brand being elevated through the design of the overall space.
Throughout the hotel, the new decor celebrates Birmingham’s rich heritage and embraces its culture. Nods to industrialism combine with a celebration of local craftsmanship to mark the city’s prolific history. Harrison was appointed by Hilton to completely transform this iconic destination hotel. The Hilton Birmingham Metropole hosts over 2,000 events per year and has already welcomed both new and returning clients.
The First Light Pavilion is a £21.5m development supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. It follows Jodrell Bank Observatory’s recent recognition as a site of Outstanding Universal Value when it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2019. The First Light Pavilion was created to tell the inspirational stories of Jodrell Bank’s world-leading contribution to science, heritage and culture.
The architecturally remarkable building was designed by Hassell Studios and engineered by Atelier One with the executive architects of JM Architect’s overlooking the entire project and Kier Construction building the large concrete dome.
I was commissioned to photograph / capture its stunning architecture and clever design within its location of the Jodrell Bank Observatory centre. I will be sharing some of the photography over the next week.
The idea was to build a discreet form that would blend into the landscape. The final unique structure is a 76m diameter concrete dome which mirrors the shape and scale of the dish of the Lovell Telescope. The building is partially buried beneath earth and grass, leaving a stunning curved entrance façade with its axis orientated due south to reflect the arc of the sun. Two separate screen walls guide visitors to the entrance in which a single glass slot is cut, lighting a meridian line cast on to the floor linking the structure to the skies above.
The design was to leave the exposed concrete visible inside the building, as well as on the front façade whilst also maintaining a high level of insulation. Armourcoat supplied an insulated render that includes graphite enabling it to reflect 20% more radiant heat than standard EPS. This optimises the thermal performance of the building and has the added dimension of a decorative polished finish to the façade.
The entrance of the First Light Pavilion is approached along a simple path between two parallel curved concrete walls suggestive of a new moon. Inside, visitors can immerse themselves in a new permanent exhibition that was created by Casson Mann and tells the inspirational story of Jodrell Bank’s pioneering scientists and engineers.
There is a 150-seat capacity auditorium ‘pod’ featuring a screen that follows the shape of the drum shell and curves over the seats. A multimedia room houses special exhibitions and caters for night-sky projections, educational lectures and live links to other science facilities.
From this, visitors can exit to a café and circular courtyard, cut into the mound so that its orientation aligns to First Light’s tracking of Sputnik at 102 degrees from Azimuth.
The First Light Pavilion opened its doors to the public in June 2022
It is one thing to renovate, transform and repurpose a space, but to give a building a new soul is something else. Freehausdesign architects in collaboration with the interior designer Tola Ojuolape and brand agency Mam'gobozi Design Factory have done just that with The Africa Centre’s new home in Southwark.
I was commissioned to photograph and capture how the design team has breathed new life into the building, filling it with the colours, tastes, and vibe of Africa.
The Africa Centre started life in the 1960’s as a cultural hub for the UK’s African Diaspora, and for a long time was based in Covent Garden. It was a place to inspire, challenge, enlighten and encourage, hosting distinguished cultural, literary and political figures of African heritage.
The new headquarters in Great Suffolk Street has been completely rejuvenated into a multi-purpose site that offers flexible spaces for a variety of events and activities such as art exhibitions, pop-ups, and networking.
Inside, the 2216 sq. ft is divided across three floors with a new feature staircase connecting the first and second ﬂoors.
In contrast to the black painted exterior there is a palette of sandy clay plaster walls, rustic polished concrete floor, African inspired feature pendant lighting, authentic carved wooden furniture, vibrant fabrics and artwork. The ground floor opens out to a reception plus collaborative meeting space, and houses “Tatale”, a contemporary pan-African restaurant. The building has been extended at the back, with a row of glass doors that fold open completely, connecting the restaurant to an animated alleyway of railway arches.
The second floor is an events area, complete with bar clad in African geometric tiles and lounge with a mixture of contemporary African seating options. Both areas open out onto their own balconies, with the front terrace being supported by a sturdy black steel canopy that the architects added on the exterior as a welcoming feature.
On the third floor is the gallery space for artists to support the centre’s values and inspire others.
The Africa Centre has already featured in a number of prominent online forums and publications, including the Architects Journal, the Guardian, the Evening Standard, Wallpaper Magazine, Dezeen Magazine, The RIBA Journal and Forbes Africa.