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Tim Ronalds to design new opera house in Surrey woods

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Tim Ronalds Architects has revealed plans for a new opera house in the grounds of West Horsley Place, Surrey – the country mansion unexpectedly inherited by Bamber Gascoigne

The 650-seat venue will become the new home of Grange Park Opera, which is set to move out of its base of the past 17 years at Northington in Hampshire following a dispute with its landlords.

Tim Ronalds’ building, which, according to the practice is based on the Scala in Milan, will sit behind the Grade I-listed house, which was left to the former University Challenge presenter by his aunt, the Duchess of Roxburghe. The opera house will feature a horseshoe-shaped auditorium with four tiers of seating. The exterior is described as a ‘drum, clad in brick with a diamond relief surface’.

The practice, which was selected ahead of Haworth Tompkins and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios in an invited contest, expects to submit a planning application for the Theatre in the Woods next month.

Subject to approval, the project will start on site in April, and is expected to be complete in time for Grange Park’s 2017 Opera Festival.

Tim Ronalds said: ‘Designing and building a new opera house for an organisation like Grange Park Opera in such a beautiful place, and at this pace, is exhilarating – opera is not like ordinary life!’

The practice is working with structural engineers Price & Myers, service engineers Max Fordham, acoustic experts Ramboll, quantity surveyors Bristow Johnson and planners Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners.

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