At the end of 2018, after three consecutive years of modernisation work, the Royal Opera House opened as part of the Open Up project and made accessible to everyone, whether they be tourists or subjects of Her Majesty.
The Royal Opera House now has new spaces dedicated to entertainment – not just bars and restaurants in a magnificent setting – but also free shows, artistic workshops, family activities and much more: an oasis of peace and beauty for the West End.
The Stanton Williams architectural studio was entrusted with developing a project to renew and extend the spaces, making them more inclusive, but without neglecting the basic values that characterise the history of one of the most important theatres in the world.
Lighting designers StudioFractal joined the team to create a comprehensive lighting strategy for all areas; assimilating the client’s aspirations with the architect’s vision, whilst remaining sensitive to the history and architecture of the Grade I listed building and the surrounding area. In addition to the ‘open up’ collaboration with Stanton Williams, StudioFractal designed a new lighting scheme for the Paul Hamlyn Hall and developed a sensitive exterior lighting scheme for Bow Street, Covent Garden Piazza & Retail Colonnade, Russell, Floral and James Street facades.
The Open Up project is an important part of the Royal Opera House's goal to make ballet and opera available to all. The building is more welcoming, transparent and permeable, with a range of new structures and activities, where the hospitality spaces – a new cafe and restaurant – are also accessible to the general public, not linked to the shows, as is the internal shop.
For this area, iGuzzini supplied the Laser CoB recessed lamps to light the showcases displaying some of the stage costumes, which create the opportunity to tell part of the theatre's glorious history.
Outside, the Royal Opera House Arcade is highlighted by illuminating the individual columns of which it is composed with Laser Blade InOut lamps installed at the capital abacus level; the lighting also helps create perspective along the arch.
The part that catches the eye of those who find themselves in the area of London, in Bow Street, is the magnificent structure of the Floral Hall, renamed the Paul Hamlyn Hall in 2007 as a tribute to the generosity of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Inside, there is now a charming restaurant overlooking the large central opening, which can also host performances. The inviting space is lit by Palco spotlights (on LV tracks) that, helped by their white finish, integrate perfectly with the marvellous glass and steel structure, which dates back to 1858.
The project has been shortlisted for the RIBA London Awards 2019.
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