First new build West End theatre in 50 years prepares to open
Designers create @sohoplace above busy transport hub
Tenderstream member Simon Allford and the Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHHM) team have been working with fellow Tenderstream member Arup, developer Derwent London, Nica Burns of Nimax Theatres and Laing O’Rourke to create the first new West End new build theatre in 50 years. Set to open its doors this Autumn, @sohoplace is the first of an overall project planned in three ‘acts’, with the other phases including new public space and the office and retail building at the Tottenham Court Road tube station exit.
The culmination of a 12-year project, the theatre is adjacent to the site of the old Astoria theatre which was demolished to build Crossrail. Nica Burns stated: “I asked our greatest theatre creatives two questions: If we could build a new theatre in the heart of the West End, what would you like it to be? What additional facilities would be on your wish list? They dreamt of a flexible auditorium, perfect acoustics and audience/stage intimacy. An ability to create on-site with the dream of a rehearsal room, a Green Room and a bar all in the same building. So that’s what we built – with a few extras including an outside terrace.”
As well as meeting the desired requirements, the designers had to overcome difficulties posed by the site. The auditorium sits directly above Crossrail’s new Elizabeth line and the existing Northern and Central lines at Tottenham Court Road station. Crossrail’s huge ventilation fans are adjacent to the auditorium, working full-time all year round. Nica praised the team’s approach, saying: “The incredible team of engineers pulled off the greatest of structural feats, building over a major underground transport hub – a challenging place to build a theatre – achieving perfect acoustics and no vibrations.”
More details on the design will be revealed in the coming months. Simon Allford stated that the theatre is "undoubtedly the most complex and delightful project I have ever worked on: the highly engineered architecture and design of a Swiss watch but built on an urban scale.”
More details on the design will be announced in as the opening approaches.
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