Roberts Park | bandstand

Description: An unusual opportunity to create a distinctive bandstand as a focal point in a World Heritage site.

Nothing remained of the original bandstand, built sometime after the opening of the park in 1871, but its design and location is shown in a 20th Century postcard. This area was one of the original focal points of the park, yet currently undervalued, and a new bandstand would reinstate the original purpose of this important area as well as, with music performances already an integral part of Roberts Park, make a valuable contribution to park life. The original design was very modest and, given the exceptional character of the Saltaire village, an attempt to reconstruct it was not considered appropriate, therefore its reinstatement was seen as an opportunity to create a unique centre-piece worthy of its location, yet sympathetic to the significant historic environment of the park and wider World Heritage Site. The architect developed the outline size & theme of the new bandstand informed by a series of consultation programmes with the local community & in close co-operation with conservation & heritage representatives. The resulting ‘Bandstand Vision’ was defined as ‘Saltaire Flower & Musical Delights’. The Ironwork Studio’s role was to apply this concept to the outline proposal of the bandstand, fully detailing all aspects of its decoration & construction.

The theme was really interesting to work with, possibly because it was established from sketches by children at Saltaire Primary School. The class, when asked to draw their thoughts on ‘what does music outdoors mean to you’ & ‘what is a bandstand’, conceived the idea of combining musical instruments with the park’s foliage. The result: a horn that blew flowers & leaves in place of notes!

This concept had the added benefit of a direct reference to Saltaire’s heritage, with flowers being a distinctive decorative element within the local buildings. We expanded on this, assembling four capital designs, each based on a casual reference associating the instrument to the plant:

  • Horns & Saxifrage
  • Violins & Maple
  • Cymbals & (blue) Bells
  • Harps & Shamrock

Although standard practice is to cast the capital decoration as part of the column, we instead applied a combination of forged & cast components for greater visual effect & volume. Continuing this approach into the balustrade attention is focused on the flowering posts, an abstract version of the horn blowing a flower design replicated from a nearby building. The three dimensional forgework was an important part of our proposal to create a distinctive bandstand aimed at appealing to & engaging the attention of people of all ages using the park.Inspired by historical fashions, the bandstand is brightly decorated using colours from the park’s newly compiled colour palette. This historically referenced colour scheme was established following archival research as, apart from one set of decorated tiles, there was limited evidence for paint analysis of previous colour within the park due to decay and vandalism. Historical fashions, influence and photographic evidence were all taken into consideration before the park’s colour policy was approved.

Service: Concept Design Development & Specification

Architect: Hillary Taylor Landscape Architects

Location: Saltaire World Heritage Site, West Yorkshire