Scottish Opera Theatre Royal, Glasgow
282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA
Internal Floor Area
A golden crown of a corner
The foyer extension for Scottish Opera at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal was focused on creating a transformational experience for audiences, encouraging wider community engagement and building a sustainable business for the future.
This project provides contemporary and open foyers to the Category ‘A’ listed historic theatre, providing an enhanced visitor experience, transforming the perception of the theatre and encouraging universal access.
The new build extension occupies a prominent city centre corner site provides an opportunity to signal the Theatre Royal in a dramatic way and provide this important public building with an appropriate civic presence.
Comprising stacked public foyers that link through to the historic auditorium at all levels, the curved form of the extension reflects the curvilinear balconies of the theatre. A central dramatic staircase links all levels, allowing wayfinding to become intuitive.
‘Bookends’, either side of the foyer elliptical ’lantern’, house lifts, toilets, interval bars, new hosting areas and offices. The greater height between the Upper Circle and Balcony allows the insertion of a mezzanine floor to house a dedicated Education Suite.
The café and box office are open during the day and animate the street level, with visitors encouraged to explore the upper level open foyers, culminating with the discovery of the roof terrace at balcony level – commanding panoramic views across the city and a destination in its own right.
The new extension has transformed the theatre into a full day facility that feels equally comfortable both during quieter periods and supporting a full house audience.
This project focused on improving the audience experience on ‘the journey from street to seat’.
In common with many historic theatres the facilities did not match the expectation of todays’ audiences with cramped foyers, bars and toilets, and no lift access to the upper balconies which proved challenging for many.
The new foyer extension is a contemporary reinterpretation of the fine auditorium with the elliptical form echoing the curved balcony fronts and the Rimex cladding providing a link to the lavish historic theatre interior. The glazed extension is visually transparent and the open foyers welcoming to all.
The box office and café at stalls level provide daytime activity, and a new education suite allows both our Client Scottish Opera and the operator Ambassadors Theatre Group to deliver their participation programme from the theatre. With new opportunities for hospitality and increased bar revenue, the new extension is a success functionally and has increased the financial resilience of the theatre.
A key move was to make a democratic space, with two large lifts serving all levels, and a playful and dramatic stair rising up through the foyers, culminating in the roof terrace providing views across the city scape.
Prior to the main project to develop new foyers Page\Park were instructed to prepare an initial Conservation Statement which included a Statement of Significance. This informed the decision to demolish the part of the building at the top of Hope Street thus creating the opportunity to create a landmark corner.
The extension of this well-loved Category A listed theatre could have proved contentious however our decisions were based on a thorough understanding of the history of the site, which informed key decisions such as reinstating the access on the centreline of the stage as the original theatre plans. ‘Lost’ historic features were integrated into the design such as the original glazed window frame, discovered buried within a wall using thermal imaging technology, and redeployed as a viewing window into the auditorium from the foyers.
The exterior form and the interior of the new foyers were carefully conceived as a holistic whole, with Page\Park responsible for the interior design and furniture selection throughout. The decision to push the structural frame to the perimeter provided the opportunity for cosy ‘bays’ to be created internally, where people naturally gravitate to the edge to take in views of the city, and interpretative and historical artefacts could be displayed.
The materials palette is a contemporary reinterpretation of the lavish gilded interior, with the limestone flooring and the timber linings provide warm contrast to the exposed fairfaced concrete structural frame. Colour is used to assist wayfinding, with the red ‘ribbon’ of the stair and the leather clad gently curved walls leading to the doors of the auditorium.
Bar, cafe and box office counters were carefully designed to meet the functional requirements, and the repetitive layout of the core ensures that wayfinding is intuitive at every level.
“We love the building Page\Park and the team have created for us. Since the foyers opened, we’ve been delighted by how graciously and effortlessly they are able to host a full-house audience. They also provide space that invites people to gather and the café and box office have been well-used since day one.”
Scottish Opera Client
RIAS Award 2015
RICS Award 2015, Leisure Category
Scottish Design Awards 2015, Leisure/ Culture Building Category
GIA Award 2015, Leisure Category