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Familiar yet Strange: Humphry Repton’s Royal Pavilion Estate in 3D

This is a legacy story from an earlier version of our website. It may contain some formatting issues and broken links.

Earlier this year I posted about our work with 3D digital technology, and how you would be able to see more examples this year. To accompany our Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate exhibition which opened in Brighton Museum last week, volunteer Colin Jones has produced a new model based on 1806 designs for the estate.

While Colin’s previous models have shown the Royal Pavilion estate as it is today, or how it once looked, this model shows the estate as it might have been. This is the Royal Pavilion in a form that was never built, a design that only existed in the pages of a book and the imagination of its designer, Humphry Repton.

For anyone who knows central Brighton, this model will appear both familiar and strange. Brighton Dome, the former stable complex which was completed in 1808, appears as it does today. But the Royal Pavilion looks very different, and the west garden, which now features a conservatory, is much more secluded. A hotspot on the northern edge of the building shifts the viewing point to the other side of the building, revealing a proposed observatory.

The model can be sampled below, but is best viewed in full screen.

This model does not feature any additional information or audio commentary, but it is intended to help tell the story of Repton’s book. Original illustrations from Repton’s designs can be seen in the Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate exhibition, but you can also download a copy of the book and listen to Royal Pavilion curator Alexandra Loske discussing Repton’s book on our Tales from the Pavilion Archive web pages.

What excites me about Colin’s model is how it makes the book more accessible. I find maps and plans fascinating, but I lack the spatial imagination to visualise how they would translate into a 3D space. Colin’s model does precisely that, and this is probably the closest we will ever get to seeing how the Royal Pavilion might have looked if history (or rather Prince George) — had taken a different course.

As ever, my sincere thanks go to Colin for his work on this model, and for my curatorial colleagues who have supported this work.

Kevin Bacon, Digital Manager