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Village Green Soapbox unveiled in Southend-on-Sea . News

Cassion Castle and Fleet Architects’ new Village Green Soapbox was unveiled
on Saturday 26 September in Chalkwell Park, Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

The £40,000 bespoke 100 sq m pavilion was commissioned by arts organisation Metal and funded by the Arts Council as a performance stage for Southend’s annual Village Green Festival.

The Village Green Festival is a one-day free arts event that takes place every September staging arts, music, film and dance performances for all ages. The Soapbox was commissioned as a centre-piece of the festival for the next four years. This year English singer songwriter Billy Bragg and Scottish indie band Camera Obscura performed on the Soapbox as headliners of the event.

The Soapbox is constructed of sustainably sourced soft timber and polycarbonate and designed as an anti-tent. It is completely demountable and has been designed to be erected and demounted quickly by a team of 6 people using hand tools. Rather than a generic solution it represents a low-tech solution specific to the site, purpose and budget, and takes everyday hard-wearing materials and redeploys them in an unexpected form.

The design also represents a technical innovation in its use of polycarbonate as a structural element as opposed to elevation cladding. This was a deliberate strategy to give the structure greater simplicity with all the timber components providing vertical and horizontal beams
and all diagonal bracing taken by the polycarbonate.

The translucent polycarbonate elevations filter light into the stage in the day. At night the façades become illuminated by a pulsing sequence of coloured stage lights, giving the Soapbox a more exuberant glowing presence akin to a chinese lantern.

Working to a tight budget and a fast turn around, the architects recruited a team of enthusiastic architecture and engineering students to build the structure. It was manufactured and built on the site of the park nursery over the course of 6 weeks, then demounted and re-erected in Chalkwell Park.

Press enquiries and image requests:
Claire Curtice

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