Sited in a sunken garden beside the beach in Littlehampton, ‘Stage-by-the-Sea’ acts as a stage and shelter for the local community. The bandstand uses spray concrete, which is more normally associated with tunnelling and other underground infrastructure projects, to create a remarkable architectural shell structure. The shells’ unique shape and interior surface has been sculpted to reflect, project and focus the sound of performers towards the audience, providing fantastic acoustics for musicians and eliminating the need for electronic amplification – a modern counterpoint to the World War Two era ‘sound mirrors” located further down the coast.
The judges greatly admired the way in which value for money has been delivered to great effect through the structural engineers' creative thinking and confidence in eschewing complex construction techniques - instead putting faith in simplicity and skilled craftsmanship. The wave-like form follows the acoustic function beautifully, and allowing gravity to pull the draped mesh of reinforcement into shape, then using a hand-applied render to freeze it in position, is masterful.