New £21.5m attraction at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire set to opens this week
‘The First Light Pavilion’ a new highly-anticipated attraction at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire is set to open to the public on Saturday, 4th June 2022.
The stunning new building is at the heart of the £21.5m First Light Project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which aims to open up the inspirational history of Jodrell Bank by engaging visitors with the fantastic stories of its pioneering scientists and their ground-breaking feats of science and engineering.
The launch of the new Pavilion will firmly establish the Jodrell Bank site, which is part of The University of Manchester, as a major UK cultural destination, fitting for its uniquely multi-dimensional status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, national visitor attraction, cultural icon, and globally significant scientific research facility.
The First Light Pavilion was designed by the award-winning architect HASSELL Studio to respond sympathetically to its unique surroundings.
The striking building takes the form of a grass-topped 76m diameter dome which cleverly mirrors the shape and scale of the landmark Lovell Telescope.
By maintaining an age-old tradition of building structures that express our relationship to the skies above us, the building also makes reference to ancient sites such as Stonehenge, by aligning with the sun via a meridian line cut through the dome’s entranceway.
Facing due South, a slim vertical window right in the centre of the building invites the sun to shine through a finger of light that moves across the entrance foyer as the day goes on, acting as a giant sundial.
Inside the new Pavilion, visitors will be able to engage with the site’s rich heritage in a brand new permanent exhibition.
Created by leading exhibition designer Casson Mann, the First Light Exhibition will bring to life the Jodrell Bank story which dates back to 1945 and the birth of a whole new science: the exploration of the Universe using radio waves instead of visible light.
Visitors will also be able to experience vivid planetarium-style shows in a custom built auditorium, complete with a curved projection screen and an impressive 9 digital projectors.
The state-of-the-art Space Dome will offer every visitor an immersive audio-visual experience with a specially commissioned film about the history of Jodrell Bank.
The concept for the new building was an original idea developed by Jodrell Bank’s Professors Teresa Anderson and Tim O’Brien who have passionately spearheaded the project since its inception.
Professor Teresa Anderson, Director, Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement said: “After years of planning, we are thrilled to finally be able to welcome visitors in to our new First Light Pavilion. This moment will mark a whole new chapter for Jodrell Bank.”
Exhibition audiences will be able to see a range of fascinating archive materials brought together for the first time including audio, film, dairies, letters, plans, notebooks and photographs.
Highlights include a number of personal items belonging to Jodrell Bank’s founder, Sir Bernard Lovell including his school report and family photographs. While mostly digitised, physical items will also be on display including a large section of the telescope gear rack.
The actual fabric of the exhibition will make innovative use of parts of the iconic Lovell Telescope.
15 4m high panels taken from the underside of the Telescope during its recent renovation will serve as the backdrop to interactive projected animations created by the award-winning digital media studio Squint/Opera.
Far from traditional displays of words, pictures and static objects, this highly interactive exhibition will weave archives and artefacts together with animations, projections and experiences.
Visitors will be able to sit back in a deckchair to experience the thrill of a meteor shower, see like a snake, and even try ‘driving’ a radio telescope.
Once visitors have explored this exhilarating space, they’ll be tasked with a quiz where successful completion will allow them to set off a projected meteor shower across the breadth of the exhibition.
Meanwhile, visitors will also be able to experience vivid planetarium-style shows in a custom built auditorium, complete with a curved projection screen and an impressive 9 digital projectors.
The state-of-the-art Space Dome will offer every visitor an immersive audio-visual experience with a specially commissioned film about the history of Jodrell Bank, narrated by Professor Brian Cox.
More info: https://www.jodrellbank.net/