Victoria Palace Theatre Image, South West London Arts Project, Architect, Extension Design, Proposal
Victoria Palace Theatre
Historic London Arts Building design by RHWL Arts Team, England, UK Architecture
3 Jun 2008
Victoria Palace Theatre London
Address: Victoria St, London SW1E 5EA
Phone: 0844 248 5000
Original Architect: Frank Matcham
Victoria Palace Theatre Applies for Planning Consent for Extension and Improvements
Design: RHWL Arts Team
Victoria Palace has submitted an application to Westminster City Council for permission to make significant improvements within the existing theatre, to build a new and extended stagehouse incorporating a six metre strip of land at the rear of the stage, and to provide two passenger lifts adjacent to the front-of-house facilities (also to be extended and improved) at the side of the theatre. (Please note that no work can take place for several years, as explained in the final paragraph)
Following very constructive discussions and consultation with Westminster City Council planning and conservation officers, and with English Heritage and Theatres Trust officers, Victoria Palace believes that its professional team has developed proposals which will maintain the best of the existing theatre – including the well preserved interior and facade – while bringing its facilities to the very highest levels in terms of technical standards, audience comfort, and working conditions.
The Theatre’s objectives from the application are:
1. To maximise the potential of the stage and flytower and extend the back-of-house facilities by taking in the additional 6 m of land to the rear of the stage.
2. To improve the comfort of the auditorium by improving the layout and ergonomics of the seating and providing more efficient heating and air conditioning.
3. To maximise the amount of foyer space and front-of-house facilities (including bars and toilets), and improving circulation by the use of new passenger lifts to the Dress and Grand Circle levels.
The total number of seats will be about the same as the present 1550, with the dominance of the stalls and dress circle slightly enhanced, and the introduction of continental seating, resulting also in improved sightlines and more legroom.
In addition, the proposals achieve improved wheelchair access at stalls level between foyers, bar and auditorium.
Victoria Palace director Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen comments: “These plans would make Victoria Palace the most advanced commercial theatre in London, both in its ability to present large and highly technical productions and in the comfortable facilities we will offer our audiences. We will be the first fully 21st century theatre both for actors and technicians and for audience members.”
In his Conservation Assessment, consultant John Earl comments: “The Matcham interiors will see very little change. Alterations affect areas of little or no architectural or historic consequence or are restorations. The completely new, much larger stage house will enable the theatre to accommodate stage productions of the most ambitious kinds. This will be of considerable significance in securing the future preservation of the building.”
Arts Team Architect Suzie Bridges said: “In addition to the improvements in audience facilities, we are really excited to have the opportunity to create what will certainly be the finest stage and support facilities in the West End. When complete, the new flytower will provide a calm, coherent and understated backdrop to Matcham’s fine listed facades.”
Implementation of the scheme, if approved, cannot take place for several years, thus ensuring that the resident hit production of Billy Elliot will continue its very successful run. This delay is because the provision of the additional space at the rear and side of the theatre will result from agreements (perhaps under s.106) with neighbouring property owner Land Securities and with London Underground Ltd.
Negotiations towards these agreements arise from the very large plans being put forward by London Underground Ltd to improve Victoria Underground Station, and by Land Securities for major commercial and residential developments. Actual progress on these plans – also not yet finalised or approved by planning authorities – will need to have advanced very significantly before any work will be possible at the Theatre.
Victoria Palace Theatre London images / information from RHWL Arts Team 030608
Arts Team is a part of Renton Howard Wood Levin LLP specialising in arts and education buildings. Current Arts Team projects include a new theatre and entertainment centre for Aylesbury and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
Original Building Opening: November 6, 1911
Location: Victoria, South West London, England, UK
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