Royal Opera House ‘Open Up’
Michael Middleton Special Award
Civic Trust Awards
Level of Award
Local Authority Area
Information about this scheme
This prestigious project delivers the Royal Opera House ‘Open Up’ mission to create a welcoming and inclusive cultural hub that attracts new audiences for ballet and opera while respecting its renowned heritage.
The result is a re-energised and democratised venue that encourages increased public engagement through greater street presence and transparency. New world-class performance and public facilities enhance the experience for visitors, staff and performers alike, while extending the life of the building outside of performance hours.
The design represents a physical manifestation of cultural change at the Royal Opera House. The architects’ key move has been to extensively reconfigure the previously introverted ground floor by providing substantially more foyer space together with redesigned Bow Street and Covent Garden piazza entrances.
The architecture and materiality of the new spaces create a high-quality, welcoming aesthetic. The new spaces deal with the challenges of working with a historic building well, and appear unencumbered by the existing structure. The result is a series of contemporary, high quality, calm and relaxing places to be. The burnished brass and walnut take their inspiration from their classical counterparts found in the original building and will age well.
Smart acoustic timber in the Linbury Theatre references the historic patterns found in the main auditorium. Marble and white walls ensure that spaces are light and almost gallery-like.
‘Open Up’ is far more than an architectural project; it is an ongoing operational, logistical and programmatic change in the Royal Opera House experience. It owes its success to the combination of client ambition and architectural response.
The Royal Opera House is employing its architecture to not only make better spaces to be, but to make spaces that you would not ordinarily choose to (or be allowed to) go. The result is a fundamental shift in the way their art is communicated; it is now more open and more civic.
Striking the right balance between heritage and 21st century life – the transformation of the Royal Opera House reimagines the world-renowned home of ballet and opera with improved access, transparency and new world-class theatre and public facilities extending the life of ROH outside of performance hours to allow for informal encounters between people and art.
The result is a revitalised and democratised venue that amplifies the ROH ‘Open Up’ mission to take down barriers – both physical and social – and to invite new audiences and generations.
Royal Opera House
Restaurant Interior Designer: Studio Linse
Retail Interior Designer: Drinkall Dean
Gardiner & Theobald
Retail & Restaurant Contractor: 3 Interiors
Arup | Robert Bird Group*
Crowd Movement: Arup
All Clear Designs
Gerald Eve | The Planning Lab
Donald Insall Associates
Catering Consultant: Kendrick Hobbs
Approved Inspector: AIS
IT Consultant: Fixation Networks
Primary Use Class
Class D2g - Theatre