Royal Academy of Music - Theatre and New Recital Hall

Ian Ritchie Architects Ltd


Hidden behind the listed façade of the Royal Academy of Music's Edwardian premises, surrounded by Grade I and Grade II listed buildings, two distinct outstanding performance spaces have been designed by Ian Ritchie Architects and seamlessly integrated within the historic site.

Designed for both opera and musical theatre productions, the Theatre sits at the heart of the Academy, replacing a spatially and technically outdated 1970's fan-shaped auditorium and stage. Inspired by the curved shapes of string instruments, the 309-seat cherry-lined Theatre has been acoustically refined to deliver excellent sound qualities. The lighting deconstructs the traditional chandelier into an exploding theatre-wide galaxy of light through 600 fibre-optic crystals. Within the old concrete walls, the Theatre incorporates 40% more seating than previously through the addition of a balcony, as well as a larger orchestra pit, a stage wing and a fly tower. All seats have unimpeded views of the stage, while the larger orchestra pit allows for an expanded repertoire choice, from early to modern opera and musical theatre.

Above the Theatre, and acoustically isolated from it and all other buildings, the new 100-seat Recital Hall exploits the last major area into which the Academy could expand, providing a further 230m2 space for recording, public concerts and master classes. Entirely lined in pale, lime-washed oak, an oculus floods the room with daylight and provides the space with a central focus. The Recital Hall has a footprint as large as that of the main stage, providing an ideal rehearsal space.

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