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Allies and Morrison unveils designs for £15m Roundhouse expansion

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Allies and Morrison has unveiled plans for a £15 million expansion of the Roundhouse in Camden including a new campus for young talent and a year-round outdoor bar at the arts venue

The never-before-published proposals - which received planning permission in 2017 - will create 2,027m² of additional space for the centre with a new building dedicated to 18 to 30-year-olds who are starting their creative careers.

The expansion will also include three rehearsal spaces in addition to the studios already housed underneath the main auditorium.

These include a music wing with two soundproofed studios for large ensembles, a triple-height studio for experimental theatre and breakout spaces for collaboration.

Since its reopening in 2006 following extensive refurbishment and an extension by John McAslan and Partners, the venue has continued to grow and space had become limited.

The new campus building will form a ‘visual bridge’ between the Roundhouse, its 2006 extension, the listed retaining wall at the north side of the campus and a four-storey container office currently under construction. 

A curving black metal street wall will replace an ‘untidy streetscape of timber fencing’ at the intersection at the top of Chalk Farm Road. 

The expansion is part of the charity’s bid to double the number of young people who visit the Roundhouse to at least 10,000 per year by 2022.

Allies and Morrison director Paddy Dillon said: ‘We’re delighted the new building will help the Roundhouse to expand its mission, and unlock the potential of young people to work in the arts.’ 

Roundhouse chief executive and artistic director Marcus Davey said: ‘The Centre for Creative and Digital Entrepreneurs will offer 18 to 30-year-olds from all backgrounds, but particularly those from areas of multiple deprivation, professional workspace, the opportunity to learn new skills and gain experience as well as accessing new networks, therefore enabling them to follow their dreams and develop a career in the creative industries.’

The Roundhouse still needs to raise £5.1million to complete the £15 million project. The total cost includes the gift of land valued at £5 million from the Norman Trust.

Architects’ view

The campus building needs to provide studio space for rehearsal, including tall space for circus training, as well as office space to house young entrepreneurs. It needs to work with the Roundhouse’s busy service yard and shape the public space outside the main bar. Equally important, it occupies a prominent site above the listed retaining wall facing Chalk Farm Road, and has to modulate between the Roundhouse itself, with its 2006 black metal extension by John McAslan and Partners, and the Roundhouse’s container office building at the west end of the site. 

An outer screen wall of black metal echoes the curving facade of the McAslan extension. Its relationship with the stock brick retaining wall mirrors the relationship between the Roundhouse and its extension. Full-height windows address Chalk Farm Road and Haverstock Hill. 

The two studio blocks, meanwhile, reflect the container office’s 12m module and corrugated metal cladding. The upper studio follows the site geometry of the container building, while the lower studio twists on to the orientation of the street retaining wall. Together, the two studios modulate the difference in height between the McAslan extension and the container office. 

The structure is of cross-laminated timber, to speed erection time in a busy performance schedule. 

Allies and morrison roundhouse from bar

Allies and morrison roundhouse from bar

Project data 

Location Chalk Farm
Type of project Cultural 
Client The Roundhouse 
Architect Allies and Morrison 
Services engineer Ingelton Wood 
Structural engineer Momentum 
Cost consultant Bristow Johnson 
Acoustic consultant Charcoalblue 
Fire consultant The Fire Surgery 
Access consultant Shape Arts 
Traffic consultant Paul Mew Associates 


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Phil Parker

    The roundhouse is a great institution and I’ve supported it over the years. My only concern is that I want the roundhouse to get the very best design possible and I’m not convinced they are.

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