Jason Flanagan is the Design Director of leading and award winning London Architects Flanagan Lawrence, where he leads a team on diverse projects including performance arts centres, acoustic structural and urban master plans—including that at Wembley, hotels, spas and residential projects and commercial offices.
Jason has a special interest in acoustics and sound, and one of his most innovative projects is Soundforms; the first ever mobile acoustic shell with the capacity for a full orchestra. Soundforms was used as the official bandstand in the Olympic Park in 2012. Jason’s work is also on site with the iconic Riverside Studios in London—providing highly flexible and state of the art Digital Arts Centres. He was also the Director responsible for the conversion of Shepherds Bush Pavilion into an award winning hotel.
Jason is changing the way we look, feel, and listen to structures in London and beyond.
“I was interested in partly the mixture of the technical side and the creative side—I mean the alternative would’ve been to study art, but I don’t think that would’ve quite worked (laughs) in quite the same way.”[6:44]
Sound reached out and gripped Jason while studying for his degree in his third year, which was the first time he got the chance to design a theatre. He also got to go experiment in an echo chamber—an echo free space, a space so silent all you can hear are the inner workings of your own body.[ 9:37]
Perhaps Jason’s most unique work in London was the mobile performance acoustic shell—a project that went on to appear at the Olympics in 2012. This project didn’t start normally. It came out of a conversation with a conductor, Mark Stephenson, where he explained that a lot of places he and his performers had to play weren’t acoustically desirable—like outside in a tent, for example. So Jason went about starting to design a reflective and mobile acoustic shell—a project that would go on to be called Soundforms. After making the designs, they were able to set up the company, patent the shell, fund raise, and build their first prototype.
While lightweight and mobile—a full-sized version has been commissioned for San Diego’s harbor and will be a permanent installation meant to accommodate a full symphony orchestra.
“One of the most enjoyable parts of any project is that early part of the design where you actually don’t know what it is you’re doing. Where you’re still searching—at that moment everything is possible.”[20:20]
Flanagan and Lawrence doesn’t just make acoustic shells though. They’ve renovated the Shepherd’s Bush Pavilion into the Shepherd’s Bush Hotel, as beautiful late 1920’s cinema which used to be the largest in Europe and was damaged in WWII. The research that goes into maintaining a historic legacy and incorporating a building’s past, to the present, is astounding. Jason makes sure their designs keep in mind the heart of the original space, and a lot of the features in the foyer are echoes of what was originally there.
Riverside Studios is another project the company is undertaking—they are recreating the three studios and orientating them so they face out towards the river. They also have projects around the globe where you can be sure Jason is using his imagination and artistic talent to create unique spaces to captivate and inspire all who see and enter them.