Royal Academy of Music: new spaces unveiled

Gabrielle Vanda14th Mar 2018

Academy is renovated with innovative and beautiful performance venues

The new 100-seat Recital Hall provides the Academy with a further 230m2 space. The Recital Hall has a footprint as large as that of the main stage, making it an ideal rehearsal space.
The seats are entirely flexible and the space can be adapted to accommodate recording sessions, rehearsals, masterclasses and performances.
The hall is contemporary in style and entirely lined in pale, lime-washed oak.
An oculus floods the room with daylight and provides the space with a central focus.
Creating a visual and physical link between the old and new buildings is the Recital Hall’s new glazed lobby, which is primarily accessed from the main stairway and also by a glazed lift.
The Theatre is named for Lady Sainsbury of Turville CBE, Deputy Chair of its Governing Body, following charitable grants from the family’s Backstage Trust and Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
The lighting deconstructs the traditional chandelier into an exploding theatre-wide galaxy of light through 600 fibre-optic crystals.
Detail of two fibre-optic crystals.
The theatre incorporates 40 per cent more seating than previously through the addition of a balcony, as well as a larger orchestra pit, a stage wing and a fly tower. The larger orchestra pit allows for an expanded repertoire choice, from early to modern opera and musical theatre.

Click the first image to launch gallery (photos: Adam Scott).

London’s Royal Academy of Music today unveils two new performance spaces – a new theatre and smaller recital hall.

These two spaces mark one of the most significant building and renovation projects in the Academy’s near-200-year history, and were built following a £30m fundraising campaign. The beautifully finished and acoustically versatile performance spaces were designed by the RIBA Award-winning Ian Ritchie Architects.

The Susie Sainsbury Theatre, which sits at the heart of the Academy, is a spectacular transformation of the original which stood from 1976 to 2015. With exquisite wooden curves resembling string instruments incorporated into its design, it also has a reshaped auditorium and a new balcony, increasing capacity by 40 per cent, and improving sightlines dramatically. The rooftop Recital Hall lies above the theatre, and is acoustically isolated from it.

The two venues are connected by renovated public spaces including a new theatre atrium and a lobby outside the Recital Hall, featuring the Edwardian rear brick wall of the main Academy building.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, the Principal of the Royal Academy of Music (and a Gramophone critic), said: ‘The spaces are stunningly beautiful and inspiring. They will raise the bar and challenge the students and staff in every possible form of music to reach higher and search further.’

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