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Theatre consulting

We help to shape creative spaces that perform as well as the artists themselves.


Our theatre and venue consultants understand the artistic, operational, technical and commercial needs of all types of venues. We work with colleagues across the firm to maximise Arup’s unparalleled experience in the multi-disciplinary design of performing arts facilities.

We work with our clients to understand their needs and give the advice and technical support that will help turn their creative vision into a reality. Our specialists help architects to design spaces that inspire and delight while delivering the best in theatrical functionality, acoustical excellence, visual quality and audience comfort.

We consult on the design and renovation of venues across all sectors – from intimate spaces for drama and music to large regional performing arts centres, from media production studios to the highest quality broadcast TV and radio concert halls, and from conference and exhibition centres to entertainment arenas.

Our team includes experts in brief development, feasibility, venue planning, auditorium design, stage engineering, seating design, production, specialist architectural lighting and performance sound, video and communications systems design. We can provide a fully integrated service or a tailored package of skills.

The ingredients of success

We anticipate each detail that makes a venue function better – in front of an audience or out of sight. Seeing the complete picture equips us to deliver success on complex projects, such as the recently opened Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin for Live Nation – who are now able to bring top international theatrical productions to Ireland – or to develop the technology brief that helped turn the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, into a world-class hub for experimental art.

Arup’s technical strength equips us to meet the increasingly complex requirements of arts venues. We draw on Arup’s exceptionally wide range of skills, from highly specialist structural and mechanical engineering for large movable structures to the most advanced audience-flow simulation. This helps us optimise safety and the revenue generation potential of front-of-audience and front-of-house areas.

Many of our people have backgrounds in performing and operating venues and so understand the needs of performers, technicians and operators. We can weave those requirements into an efficient design that makes optimal use of space and budget to deliver venues that are both cost-effective to build and economically sustainable to operate.

We seamlessly partner with other Arup specialists, most often drawing on our acoustics, lighting and information technology skills. For Ahmed Adnan Saygun Arts Centre, Turkey’s most advanced concert hall, close partnership between acoustic consultant, stage engineer and technology specialist, working in close cooperation with the architect, allowed this exceptional project to be delivered on a tight budget while maintaining the architect’s and client’s vision.

Venues for the future

A future-fit performing arts space must be adaptable to the evolving requirements of audiences, artists, programmers and funders. Increasingly, cultural and economic drivers require projects to be commercially and environmentally sustainable.

We design versatile theatres for diverse programming. We do this with flexible staging, seating and technological infrastructure so that the venue can quickly adapt to maximise potential revenue. For Kings Place, London, our theatre consultants helped the architect fully integrate hidden technological conferencing systems so that the music recital hall’s visual impact was not compromised.

We bring new life to old spaces such as the Jerome Robbins Theater, New York, where we led the design team to renovate an unpopular existing theatre with poor acoustics, sightlines and technical systems. The revitalised venue is now a new home to the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation and the Wooster Group – and an acclaimed space for dance, theatre, music and multimedia, with adjustable acoustics and advanced technical systems.

The growing ‘green theatre’ movement draws on Arup’s ability to merge sustainability and arts expertise. We responded to Arcola Theatre’s aspiration to become the first carbon-neutral theatre with a study that laid out a sustainability-driven technical brief and concept design for the proposed Future Arcola. The proposal included natural ventilation and underground cooling among a range of energy-efficiency measures.

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Global contact

Raj Patel
  • Raj Patel

    Raj Patel

    Raj Patel

    Americas Region Board Member, Arup Fellow

    Your best solution to date?

    The Unicorn Children’s Theatre. The whole building has environments, acoustics and technical facilities to support cutting edge performances that engage young minds.

    Why is it significant?

    Unicorn put on the first theatre performance I ever saw aged 7, and I haven’t forgotten it! It’s the first purpose built theatre for children and the main theatre is designed specifically to heighten speech intelligibility for young children. It is built on a tight site, sensitive spaces are stacked on top of each other, is close to a busy road and above the London Underground. This required a rigorous integrated design team process ensuring the acoustic criteria were achieved, and did so with minimal use of materials for sustainability.

    Your particular skill?

    Acoustics, audio and visual design. Leading multi-disciplinary design teams on arts and culture projects. Encouraging the client, architect and designers to think from the inside out, to think about the user experience of buildings and hopefully to create environments that will provide life-changing experiences for artists and audiences.

    Enthusiasm?

    The ability for the arts to transform life for the better.

    Why Arup?

    Freedom for boundless creativity. Resources to achieve what seems impossible. Working with the best people in the world to do it.

    Anything else?

    I have collaborated with several artists on works that have been shown at venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA PS1, Tate Modern and Art Basel.

  • Global Theatre Consulting leader

Explore our work


Photograph of exterior of the Stormen Concert Hall lit up of an evening with boats in the foreground

Project: Stormen Kulturkvartalet, Norway

Arup were appointed to provide specialist acoustic, theatre planning and technical systems design for the new cultural centre in Bodø.

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Historical Northrop Memorial Auditorium. Credit HGA Architects and Engineers.

Project: Northrop Memorial Auditorium

Transforming an old civic auditorium into a new, vibrant world-class performance venue.

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ALT text	Image showing the stage area under redevelopment. Credit: Marcia Lessa

Project: Grande Auditorio - Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

Refurbishing the Grand Auditorium into one of the most modern and technologically advanced performance venues of its kind.

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Campaign: Hearing is believing

How our SoundLab helps to design future infrastructure

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