Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House

Architect
Stanton Williams
Location
London, United Kingdom | View Map
Project Year
2018
Category
Theaters
Stories By
Stanton Williams

iGuzzini

Clark Door Limited
Luke Hayes

Royal Opera House

Stanton Williams as Architects

Royal Opera House – Open Up project receives planning approval


Westminster City Council’s Planning Department has approved Stanton Williams’ scheme to ‘open up’ the Royal Opera House. The planning consent will allow the Royal Opera House to enhance their core values of creativity, excellence and inclusivity. The design, which has been developed by Stanton Williams in collaboration with Arup, will make the physical entrances and street-level public spaces of the Royal Opera House more open and inviting to everyone, encouraging artists, audiences, as well as the general public to explore the building and engage with the artistic activities within.


Open Up will also make the Royal Opera House a must-see destination. Existing spaces, such as the Linbury Studio Theatre and Foyer will be transformed, a new terrace off the Paul Hamlyn Hall will be created and other spaces developed to make the creative, technical and education work of the Royal Opera House more visible. Stanton Williams and Arup are both well known for their deep respect for heritage and appreciation of context and are therefore well positioned to deliver a Royal Opera House fit for the twenty first century.


Alan Stanton, Director at Stanton Williams said: “The Open Up project’s principal objective is to transform the public’s experience of the Royal Opera House at its Covent Garden home. We want to bring a sense of the magic that is created each night on stage to the open public spaces for all to enjoy. We are delighted that the project can now move forward.”


The main objectives of Open Up are:  To promote easier circulation and way-finding within the building  To expand and ‘open up’ the main foyer at ground level to create a better experience for visitors  To redesign the Linbury Studio Theatre with a distinct ‘character’ and improve audience and technical facilities  To create a glazed terrace at Amphitheatre level for additional seating covers in the restaurant and engagement with the Covent Garden Piazza below  To create a new staircase directly linking both the main foyer to the Paul Hamlyn Hall and the escalator to the Amphitheatre level  To create a strong visual connection between the Linbury foyer and the main ground floor foyer  To create a new glazed entrance on the Bow Street façade for an enhanced street presence and introduce more daylight


The main auditorium remains untouched so that the performance schedule of The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera can operate as normal. Work is expected to commence towards the end of 2015 and should take two years to complete.


Royal Opera House. Open Up Project

iGuzzini as Manufacturers

At the end of 2018, after three consecutive years of modernisation work, the Royal Opera House opened as part of the Open Up project and made accessible to everyone, whether they be tourists or subjects of Her Majesty.

The Royal Opera House now has new spaces dedicated to entertainment – not just bars and restaurants in a magnificent setting – but also free shows, artistic workshops, family activities and much more: an oasis of peace and beauty for the West End.

The Stanton Williams architectural studio was entrusted with developing a project to renew and extend the spaces, making them more inclusive, but without neglecting the basic values that characterise the history of one of the most important theatres in the world.

Lighting designers StudioFractal joined the team to create a comprehensive lighting strategy for all areas; assimilating the client’s aspirations with the architect’s vision, whilst remaining sensitive to the history and architecture of the Grade I listed building and the surrounding area. In addition to the ‘open up’ collaboration with Stanton Williams, StudioFractal designed a new lighting scheme for the Paul Hamlyn Hall and developed a sensitive exterior lighting scheme for Bow Street, Covent Garden Piazza & Retail Colonnade, Russell, Floral and James Street facades.

The Open Up project is an important part of the Royal Opera House's goal to make ballet and opera available to all. The building is more welcoming, transparent and permeable, with a range of new structures and activities, where the hospitality spaces – a new cafe and restaurant – are also accessible to the general public, not linked to the shows, as is the internal shop.

For this area, iGuzzini supplied the Laser CoB recessed lamps to light the showcases displaying some of the stage costumes, which create the opportunity to tell part of the theatre's glorious history.

Outside, the Royal Opera House Arcade is highlighted by illuminating the individual columns of which it is composed with Laser Blade InOut lamps installed at the capital abacus level; the lighting also helps create perspective along the arch.

The part that catches the eye of those who find themselves in the area of London, in Bow Street, is the magnificent structure of the Floral Hall, renamed the Paul Hamlyn Hall in 2007 as a tribute to the generosity of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Inside, there is now a charming restaurant overlooking the large central opening, which can also host performances. The inviting space is lit by Palco spotlights (on LV tracks) that, helped by their white finish, integrate perfectly with the marvellous glass and steel structure, which dates back to 1858.

The project has been shortlisted for the RIBA London Awards 2019.

Clark Door provide bespoke door systems for Royal Opera House – Covent Garden, London

Clark Door Limited as Acoustic Sliding Doors

The Royal Opera House, as you see it today, opened on 4th December 1999. Its reconstruction actually began on site in 1996 with the last performance in the ‘old’ house in July 1997. In three years the most inadequate of the great opera houses of the world was transformed, not only for audiences but equally for performers and the hundreds of other people who work there.

Clark Door Limited was involved from the early stages of the Opera House redevelopment and worked on the design concepts with the architects, acoustics consultants and closely with the client to ensure that their requirements to provide the highest levels of performance could be met.

The development work involved pioneering acoustic designs fully tested in the laboratory at Salford University and this work resulted in new patents being granted for the sealing systems developed by Clark Door.

The Loss Prevention Council provided the approval of the designs for the door integrity ratings for fire resistance – again based upon test work carried out by Clark Door – nothing was left to chance.

Amongst the other doors provided on the project by Clark Door Limited was a large acoustic fire door on the rear of the Lindbury Studio Theatre and an access door to the ‘Get-in Lift’ that had to be finished in a cladding system to match the external face of the building. The ‘Get-in Lift’ allows articulated vehicles to fully reverse into the building and to move between floors with their loads.

The large blue horizontal sliding door is 16m wide x 11m high, site tested at 50dB attenuation and fire resistant to 60 minutes integrity and insulation.

It provides the sound insulation between the stage and the main opera rehearsal room, ORR1, and at 300mm thick weighs 35 tonnes.

As the audience enjoys a performance the rehearsal for the following act continues and, thanks to the sound reducing qualities of the Clark door, nothing can be heard from either the rehearsal or performance that could disturb others.

Clark Door also provided a door measuring 10m x 11m and is fire resistant to 60 minutes. Whilst this acoustic door is not required to provide any sound reduction performance it does provide a critical barrier to fire. The set build area is an area that will see a multitude of skills employed to build some of the fantastic sets that an Opera House such as this provides. This combination of the working space and public space requires careful consideration of the potential risks that exist. Hence our Loss Prevention Certification Board Certificated Fireman door was chosen to provide this protection.

The blue vertical sliding door has an 800mm deep acoustic lobby and is on site tested to achieve an attenuation of 67dB. An exceptionally high performance was required for this opening as the second opera rehearsal room opens directly onto a set build area. The doors were designed with different attenuation levels to prevent any ‘acoustic holes’ from symmetric construction.

The Royal Opera House’s facilities building manager recently gave Clark Door the following feedback, 20 years after the doors were originally installed; ‘Our doors are used many times a day, several days a week and operate very well.’

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