Alexandra Palace
In Brief

Alexandra Palace


Construction value:

Theatre and East Wing
December 2018
Creativity Pavilion 
February 2020

The regeneration of the East Wing of the 'people’s palace' has breathed new life into a much-loved cultural icon, integrating a new technical infrastructure while retaining the unique character of its historic spaces.

These spaces offer their own particular delight and significance. The East Court was once a grand exhibition hall, part of a wider experience of promenade and spectacle so beloved of the Victorian public. The 19th-century theatre, dark for over eighty years, tells a story of grandeur overlaid with decades of alteration, damage and slow decay. All of this is integral to the character and atmosphere of the space. The past is suddenly tangible. Some far-reaching interventions were called for, but of paramount importance was the preservation of the evocative and layered character that made this room unique – a fragile quality that could have been destroyed by well-meaning repair.

We use the term "arrested decay" to describe an approach of consolidation rather than restoration. In treating rooms as found spaces, the processes of deterioration have been addressed, elements that were unsafe or could not be viably repaired have been removed, added elements are legibly modern.

These additions are informed by the grand scale of the Victorian palace and the ambitions it represents, and are marked out by a scale and materiality that identifies them as new. At the same time, this is just one more layer added to many previous ones, another chapter in the history of Alexandra Palace.

Read  'Arrested Decay' by Architect Matt Somerville.

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★ In short, Alexandra Palace Theatre is shabby chic taken to an entirely new level. And it is fantastic.
Will Gompertz, BBC Arts Editor
"It has a wonderful atmosphere, the acoustic is extraordinarily good. What was exciting as we came in and started making music in there was that the building began to breathe again!"
Jane Glover, BBC Concert Orchestra
"the project offers a thrilling new interpretation of historical authenticity from which we can potentially recalibrate our entire view of conservation"
Ike Ijeh Building Design Magazine
"The architects' response has led to a great sense of shared endeavour which coherently and very successfully delivers a refreshed and reinvigorated People's Palace. A stunning achievement."
RIBA Awards Judges Citation
East Court
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The court is more than just a foyer; it is an arrival space and focal point for the eastern end of the Palace and brings together all its uses, as well as an indoor extension of the park.
Alexandra Palace Theatre

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.

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Debut Performance
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The building itself is fabulous. It is still a little distressed; there is nothing wrong with that. The acoustic is extraordinarily good and we felt that there is such history in the building which has lain dormant for 70 years or so. It has a wonderful atmosphere.
Jane Glover, BBC Concert Orchestra
Creativity Pavilion

The Creativity Pavilion in Alexandra Palace provides a new home in the East Wing of the building, for the charity’s Creative Learning programme.

The pavilion has the flexibility to be transformed and adapted for a range of activities. The upper levels of the space form a light box, whilst below a series of fixed and moveable panels enable the space to be enclosed from the rest of the East Court or opened up to become part of the larger space.

The Creativity Pavilion provides a welcoming, inspiring and modern fit-for-purpose facility which contributes to the vibrancy of the newly restored East Wing.

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Plans backed by important stakeholders and residents

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.

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Selected Awards

2020 Civic Trust Awards AABC Conservation: Highly Commended

2019 AJ Architecture Awards, Heritage Category

2019 NLA Conservation and Retrofit Award: Commendation

2019 RIBA National Award

2019 RIBA London Award

2019 RIBA London Conservation Award

2018 Haringey Design Awards: Best Restoration Project and Best Project in Haringey

2015 New London Awards: Public Buildings Unbuilt Winner

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Structural Engineers:
Alan Baxter & Associates
Theatre Design:
Max Fordham
Max Fordham
Quantity Surveyors:
Mott MacDonald
John Burke Associates
Fire Engineers:
The Fire Surgery
Willmott Dixon Construction

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