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Eco-theatre plans launched in London

15 December 2009

At London’s City Hall today, representatives from Arup and Arcola Theatre presented plans for the development of the new Future Arcola theatre in Dalston.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said, “As world leaders gather in Copenhagen, Arcola Theatre is at the forefront of how London's arts organisations can champion the environment. We have to take robust yet practical steps to make our city more energy efficient. This has the added benefit of playing a pivotal role in the wider redevelopment of this part of the city, making the urban realm more pleasant. Three cheers for Arcola for raising the bar.” Developed though a feasibility study funded by London Development Agency, the project will be the UK’s first major arts venue to place environmental sustainability at the core of construction, programme and operations. Mehmet Egen, Artistic Director and founder of Arcola Theatre said: “Our new building will include an exquisite 350 seat theatre allowing us to create an even greater and more diverse programme, building on our past nine years of success.” Dr Ben Todd, Executive Director of Arcola Theatre, said: “Wrapped around the main stage will be dynamic spaces to accommodate our ever-growing environmental sustainability and community engagement programmes. Our aim is to create a place Da Vinci might call home where creative people across multiple disciplines drive innovation for a sustainable and equitable future.” Arup has been appointed to provide theatre and acoustic consultancy services whilst Arup Associates, Arup's multidisciplinary design studio, will provide integrated architecture and engineering design. Arup's iconic projects include the Sydney Opera House, and the Birds Nest and Water Cube stadiums for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Neill Woodger, director of Arup’s theatre consulting and acoustics business said: “Our task is to conceive a theatre that exemplifies sustainability. It must provide the highest levels of artistic experience, whilst being affordable to build and economical to operate. It must contribute positively to the environment and local community and lead the way in promoting the shift to more ecological lifestyles. This is the first public venue to use a sustainability framework to define the brief and conceptual design, and it will set a new level of performance in theatre design.” The expanded Arcola Theatre will include:

  • A main house theatre seating 350 (500 standing), suitable for mid-scale theatre and opera productions.
  • 150 and 80 seat black-box studio theatres.
  • An extensive foyer, spilling out on to the public realm, with bar/café/restaurant and informal meeting spaces.
  • Incubator units for scientists and engineers developing sustainable technologies.
  • A bike hub with storage and change facilities, close to public transport nodes.
  • Public garden and growing spaces.

The new Arcola Theatre will be located at the heart of Dalston close to the new Dalston Square development and a new East London Line station. The project is part of a wider London Development Agency (LDA) funded project Making Space in Dalston. This exemplary project, led by the LDA’s Design for London team, is bringing together diverse stakeholders to choose and deliver strategic improvements in public realm resources across Dalston. Cllr Guy Nicholson, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, said: “Hackney Council is committed to supporting Arcola's ambition to create an innovative new eco-theatre, ensuring that Arcola continues to contribute to the cultural excitement that is Dalston.” Project partners include sustainability consultants Juhi Shareef Associates, bar/cafe/restaurant consultants Ignite Hospitality Consultants, project management from Mouchel and quantity surveying by William G Dick. The work is funderd by Design for London and the London Development Agency and hosted by the London Borough of Hackney.

Project Director, Dr Ben Todd of Arcola Theatre is one of the 2009 London Leaders for sustainability and the launch event is supported by the London Sustainable Development Commission.