In 2009, we were commissioned to design a Theatre for students and the public’s enjoyment of performances, while delivering the ambience, aesthetics and environmental credentials befitting the Academy’s status as one of the world’s premiere musical academies.
Beyond the brief, we explored the potential of creating new rooftop spaces over the Theatre. An epiphany during a discussion between the Client and the Architect led to the development of a 100-seat public Recital Hall suitable for professional recording.
The Theatre, designed for both opera and musical theatre, now forms the heart of the Academy, and was realised within the gutted shell of a 1970’s auditorium. The addition of a balcony provides 40% more seating whilst a larger orchestra pit, stage wing and fly-tower expands repertoire choice from early to modern opera and musical theatre. The 309-seat cherry-lined theatre has been acoustically refined to deliver excellent sound qualities. The lighting deconstructs the traditional chandelier into an exploding theatre-wide galaxy of light through 600 fibre-optic crystals. Above the Theatre, the acoustically isolated Recital Hall skilfully exploits the last major area into which the institution could expand. Entirely lined in pale, limed oak, it provides additional space for student rehearsal, performance, public events and recording.
In designing the new spaces, we took inspiration from string instruments: their curved shapes, construction, finishing and tuning mechanisms. For the Theatre, our ambition was to conceive a space both intimate and epic. Our intention for the Recital Hall was to deliver a tranquil, visually cool space.
The very constrained site into which new functions were introduced made the project unusually complex. Prefabrication was key to success. The fact that the client, design team and contractors have achieved a brilliant outcome at every level in both performance spaces has given everyone a genuine sense of unbridled joy and pride.
Credits: - Farrat Isolevel - Ulrike Brandi Licht - Equals Consulting - Glantre Engineering - James Johnson & Co Ltd - All Metal Roofing - WSP Structures - WSP Fire - Atelier Ten - Figueras - Donald Insall Associates - Bradgate - Arup Acoustics - Centre for Accessible Environments - RISE - Fisher Dachs Associates - Roblon - Approvded Inspector Services Ltd - Geoffrey Osborne - Push The Button