Opera House as workplace
One of the most attractive aspects of working on the roh project is the diversity of activities that take place behind the scenes, from people making and crafting things to engineering, stage assembly, finance, administration and management. The project is really a miniature city within the city. We have tried to reflect this diversity in the way space has been provided. For example, the ballet company has the roof level to enable ballet studios to be daylit and 'light' in every sense of the word. Craft activities - jewellery-making, millinery, wigs, dyeing - are all located in interestingly shaped roof spaces with studio windows and views. Costume-making and other crafts have a long balcony overlooking Bow Street. Also at the same level is the canteen with its own terrace and wonderful views across Westminster. The canteen has a vital function in the roh community of bringing all the various people together who might not normally meet. It seemed important to locate it in one of the most attractive places in the building.
Dressing rooms have to be no more than one level above or below stage. Lift access for performers is traditionally unacceptable. All the principal dressing rooms are located at first-floor level overlooking the piazza as part of the arcade building. Chorus dressing rooms are below stage to give easy access for quick changes of costume.
The arcade building, with its sense of being a principal frontage, is used for important rooms that reflect their location. On the first floor are the main dressing rooms and on the second the management areas such as technical management and the general director. Corridors that give access to accommodation around the stage areas have windows overlooking the vast stage spaces to give a sense of location and to allow as many people as possible to see what is happening on stage. The stage door on Floral Street leads to a new extended staff and artists foyer with facilities for snacks and a small bar. Many people gather around the stage door. The stage areas are served by the get-in on Bow Street, and scenery assembly takes place in an area visible from the street. There is a new opera rehearsal room at stage level and the orchestra rehearsals take place mostly in the pit but occasionally in the studio theatre.
This is a building that is active from early morning till late at night. It is a lively participant in city life.