To enhance the experience of the Royal Opera House’s visitors, staff and artists alike, the architectural vision opens up the space below the historic Grade II listed cast-iron and glass façade along Bow Street, dating from the 1850s.
Additional internal improvements include the design and installation of a three-story steelwork structure to replace the old Linbury Theatre balconies, and new steel support structure for the historic stone Grand Staircase to facilitate pedestrian flow. The existing basement was also extended beneath the façade using a new secant wall and terrace slab.
£36 million GBP
Royal Opera House
Stanton Williams Architects
Robert Bird Group Services:
Key technical challenges
In addition to the usual project parameters, there were two key requirements:
- There should be no damage to the retained Grade II listed façade.
- The Opera House should remain operational during all stages of the construction works. This requirement was vital to maintain revenue and achieve project viability.
Robert Bird Group was engaged, following rejection of proposals from the original consultant on the basis of cost, installation complexity, risk and operational disruption.
The project scope required a new void space to be created below the stone steps of the Grand Staircase.
As this required the removal of the current structural support system (a historic mix of masonry walls and wrought-iron beams), RBG has provided a new steelwork support structure which spans between the main vertical masonry walls of the building.
The installation of this new support structure in confined spaced was carefully coordinated to make sure that the load path and stress limits for the historic stone treads were maintained at all times, especially as the staircase was fully operational during the construction stage.
A new steelwork balcony structure was to be placed within the existing three-story-high basement void and maintain strict acoustic and dynamic performance criteria specific to this type of building function and environment. This meant that all the connection points (e.g. column bases, lateral restraint supports) to the existing structure around the new theatre had to be provided with carefully tuned acoustic bearings.