Dominique Perrault at one with nature in his first UK project
A historic market town in London’s commuter belt is the unlikely site of Dominique Perrault’s first project to be built in the UK.
The French architect designed the Priory Park Pavilion in Reigate, Surrey, which officially opened on 12 June.
Although Perrault’s practice is more renowned for its grands projets, such as the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris and the Olympic Velodrome in Berlin, it has also designed a number of intimate, small-scale buildings such as Café Lichtbick in Innsbruck, Austria.
The pavilion is the centrepiece of a council-run initiative which involves the renovation of historic Priory Park. The park restoration project has been funded by a £4.2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, plus contributions from the council and corporate sponsors.
With a total floor area of 340 sq m, the pavilion contains the park’s information centre, public toilets and a café that is run by a local business.
Perrault’s design, according to the architect’s website, “seeks a dialogue between architecture and nature” and features a circular plan with floor to ceiling windows and mirror-polished stainless steel columns.
The roof is further supported by four internal columns, three of which have been sculpturally clad in fine gypsum, a soft mineral. The pavilion’s floor is decorated with brightly coloured circles - an interpretation of an artwork by Walter Oberholtzer.
Sustainability is a key element of the scheme – the pavilion is fitted with a ground source heat pump which utilises the Earth’s warmth. The heat pump involves a series of underground pipes and is predicted to save 13.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Perrault’s scheme was the winning entry in an international competition judged by members of the local council, English Heritage and the RIBA. It was also the favourite scheme with Reigate residents, receiving over 90 per cent positive comments.
Cllr Adam De Save, from Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, said: “I am sure that visitors to the park will be struck by the building’s distinctive beauty.”