architecture firm HASSELL has revealed plans for a new permanent structure to be built at the jodrell bank observatory in northwest england. ‘first light pavilion’, which is now under construction, intends to transform the visitor experience at the famous observatory, bringing radio astronomy principles, and the stories of jodrell bank’s pioneering scientists to life for the thousands of people who visit every year. integrated into the landscape, the pavilion’s circular form references the shape and exact size of the neighboring lovell telescope’s 76.2 meter (250 ft) diameter dish.

hassell first light pavilion
all images courtesy of HASSELL



the jodrell bank observatory hosts a number of radio telescopes, and is part of the jodrell bank centre for astrophysics at the university of manchester. designed by HASSELL to protect and enhance views across the site, the new building continues the natural setting of the arboretum, where visitors are able to roam freely. the pavilion will be arranged over a single storey, contained within a concrete shell structure, which when exposed on the pavilion interior will offer a sweeping plane of concrete, curving around the exhibition and auditorium core.

hassell first light pavilion



HASSELL worked closely with the university’s astronomers and exhibition designers, casson mann, on the design of the circular exhibition space and auditorium at the heart of the building. the 150-seat capacity auditorium ‘pod’ will feature a screen that follows the shape of the drum shell and curves over the seats to create a dynamic projection space. meanwhile, a multi-media room will house special exhibitions and cater for night-sky projections, as well as educational lectures, and live links to other science facilities. exiting the drum will give way to a café and circular courtyard cut into the mound. the project is set to complete in 2021.



project info:


name: first light pavilion
location: jodrell bank observatory, manchester, UK
client: university of manchester
architect: HASSELL

exhibition designer: casson mann
status: under construction, set to complete in 2021