Opening its doors to the public this week, the First Light Pavilion will take visitors on an immersive journey to discover the world-famous Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK — a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some of the planet’s most ground-breaking astronomical discoveries.
Bringing radio astronomy principles to life for the thousands of people who visit the site every year, the First Light Pavilion is at the centre of the overall regeneration of Jodrell Bank and Jodrell Bank Observatory.
As the largest and most significant public building, the Pavilion is designed to capture the curiosity of space enthusiasts and communicate the scientific adventure, exploration and breadth of discovery within astronomy.
Home to one of the world’s largest and most powerful radio telescopes, the iconic Lovell Telescope, Jodrell Bank is at the forefront of using radio waves to explore deepest space. The Observatory, located in the heart of the Cheshire countryside in the North of England, has a world-leading reputation for scientific research, making discoveries in the fields of quasars, pulsars, gravitational lenses and satellite tracking.
The Pavilion has been created in collaboration with exhibition designers Casson Mann to celebrate both the site’s heritage and the very beginnings of radio astronomy and takes the form of a grass-covered dome, integrated into the surrounding landscape.
“The completion of the First Light Pavilion marks a new era for Jodrell Bank. It will introduce new generations to the rich history of the site and the wonders of radio astronomy.”
Julian Gitsham, Principal
Arranged over a single storey and contained within a concrete shell structure, the Pavilion features a dramatically curved concrete entrance with its axis due south to reflect the arc of the sun. Two separate screen walls guide visitors to the entryway, evoking a sense of exploration and discovery.
A single glass slot is cut out of the south axis, illuminating a meridian line cast onto the floor within the minimal, contemporary entrance space.
Inside, a 150-seat capacity auditorium ‘pod’ features a screen that follows the shape of the interior shell and curves over the seats to create a dynamic and immersive projection space. The multi-media room houses special exhibitions and caters for night-sky projections, as well as educational lectures and live links to other science facilities.
Exiting the concrete shell gives way to a café and circular courtyard, cut into the mound so that its orientation aligns to the First Light’s tracking of Russia’s Sputnik at 102° from Azimuth. As visitors leave the Pavilion, an historical avenue of trees frames the giant Lovell Telescope in the distance, inviting them to explore further across the site.
The First Light Pavilion officially opens to the public Saturday June 4, 2022. For more details and tickets to Jodrell Bank go to jodrellbank.net