The regeneration of the Victorian Theatre and East Court of the People’s Palace boldly captures the arrested decay of this spectacular building and through the discreet integration of technical infrastructure, enables it to become a significant new theatrical, cultural and event space for London.
Our approach for the reimagining of the space was to be understated and sympathetic. To breathe new life back in, whilst retaining and maintaining as much of the existing fabric and integrity of the space as possible so as to avoid the dilution of its unique character. We have embraced what we have found, resisting the temptation to tidy up. New interventions are minimal, and have their own vocabulary, allowing the craftsmanship and original work to remain at the fore. As a result, the building has been held in suspended animation.
The spaces offer their own particular delight and historic significance. The East Court was once a grand exhibition space, part of a wider experience of promenade and spectacle so beloved of the Victorian public. The 19th-century theatre, dark for over eighty years, bears a highly atmospheric patina of age. It is a true ‘found space’, a snapshot of a grander time, returned.
The works have created spaces that retain their character and that are fit to host the Palace's eclectic arts programme and provide new ways for the public to interact with the building. The East Court has been opened up as a welcoming communal space for everyday use and the creative learning zone, cafe and bar areas signal a return to the Palace's original purpose, famed for its innovations in creativity and learning.
Read 'Suspended Animation' by Architect Matt Somerville.
To create a more flexible auditorium the floor in the stalls was first flattened and retractable seating installed.
The decorative ceiling has been stabilised and the trusses from which it is suspended have been strengthened and repaired. A matrix of strongpoints within the auditorium roof void allows for the connection of chain hoists and the suspension of production equipment beneath the fibrous plasterwork ceiling. This kit of parts – of points, hoists and trusses – allow for a wide variety of formats to be created to provide for the events of today and the future.
The scheme won support from English Heritage, the Theatres Trust, the Friends of Alexandra Palace Theatre, the Friends of Alexandra Palace Park, the Victorian Society and the Alexandra Palace Television Group as well as local residents. This project represents a unique opportunity for the ‘People’s Palace’ to fulfil its potential as a place of learning and enjoyment for the wider community and to provide a significant boost to the local economy.
In September 2016 we were appointed to develop a strategic masterplan, to further regenerate the local area.
2015 New London Awards: Public Buildings Unbuilt Winner
2018 Haringey Design Awards: Best Restoration Project
2018 Haringey Design Awards: Best Project in Haringey