One new building stands out on the Golden Mile – a faceted three-storey tower set on a long, low plinth and covered with gold shingles which sparkle in the light. This is Festival House, an award winning building designed by architect dRMM.
Structural EngineerMichael Hadi Associates
Main ContractorF Parkinson Building Contractors
Wood SupplierMerk Timber
Timber ElementsCLT structure, staircase, landings, Glulam timber beams
As a tourist resort, Blackpool had its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, yet even today it attracts more than 10 million visitors a year. It has grand monuments – Blackpool Tower, the Winter Gardens – yet behind the jazzy façade is a different town, with some areas classified as amongst the five per cent most deprived in the UK.
Regeneration projects to improve the town include a new tram service and Lead Landscaper LDA’s award-winning re-design of the Golden Mile, Blackpool’s 1.6 mile-long promenade, which has created a series of terraces and ramps to connect the promenade to the wide sandy beach. One new building stands out on the Golden Mile – a faceted three-storey tower set on a long, low plinth and covered with gold shingles which sparkle in the light. This is Festival House, an award winning building designed by architect dRMM.
Its gold-patinated stainless steel shingle cladding and faceted walls reflect Blackpool’s flamboyant heritage. They also suit the building’s use as a register office and ceremonial rooms for civic weddings and partnerships; hence its nickname ‘The Tower of Love’. A local tourist information centre and restaurant take up the ground floor, extending as a long, low single-storey structure which acts as a plinth to the registrar and ceremony rooms on the floors above.
“Some people regard registry office weddings an anti-climax to church weddings”, explains the architect, dRMM director Alex de Rijke. “In this case the aim was to create a strong sense of occasion.”
Wedding groups enter a lobby on the ground floor where large glazed windows give a view of the sea. They take a lift to the first floor waiting space, also glazed to give more extensive views out to sea; then they go up to the second floor and enter the ceremony hall to make their vows. The focus of this dramatic high-ceilinged hall is a huge floor-to-ceiling glazed opening, sited precisely to frame a view of Blackpool Tower. Wedding vows are made in front of this imposing backdrop. When the ceremony is over, couple and guests leave by a grand staircase which leads down to a small paved garden overlooking the beach.
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The shell is formed of flat polygonal plywood panels, connected at the edges with hinges and faceted to form a dramatic curved shape. The name derives from the panel shapes which mimic the pattern of a giraffe’s colouring.
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