Stirling Prize-winner Haworth Tompkins has been granted permission to rebuild the Battersea Arts Centre a year after the Grade II*-listed building was ravaged by fire
In March last year a blaze ripped through the 122-year-old south London landmark as work was nearing completion on a £13.3 million restoration led by the practice.
Although fire crews managed to save two-thirds of the building, including its ‘priceless’ octagonal glass dome, the Grand Hall was almost completely destroyed including its barrel-vaulted decorative plaster.
The proposed scheme features a new ceiling ’based on the profile and pattern of the original’ and constructed as an open lattice ’considerably improving the room acoustic, as well as enabling rigging and lighting through the ceiling in a vastly increased number of locations’.
A surviving 1936 balcony is to be retained and fitted with a new frontage to replace the balustrade lost during the fire. Two demountable side galleries will be connected to this balcony.
The organ, most of which was being restored offsite at the time of the fire, will also be reinstated on the balcony.
The scheme was given the go-ahead by Wandsworth Council last week.
Extracts from the design and access statement
’The existing capacities for performances were 300-400 people. Capacities of 400-600 people have been investigated and could be installed in the future should Battersea Arts Centre increase its stock of seating rake components. Events, with standing audiences of 800-1000 people will also be possible in the rebuilt Grand Hall. The services infrastructure, including ventilation, theatre power and lighting, will be designed to suit the full range of capacities possible in the space. Improved acoustic separation between the Grand Hall and Lower Hall level - achieved in part through the Grand Hall floor build up and in part through new ceilings at Lower Hall level - will enable a greater range of events to take place simultaneously. ’
’The internal London stock brickwork has been revealed in some places where the plaster has been dislodged. In other places, the paintwork has burnt away, leaving the original plaster on display, with the intricate pattern of the key revealed. It other places, the paint layers have been delaminated to varying degrees, with the full range of historic colours schemes used in the room visible in certain areas. Over the proscenium arch, the decorative plaster frieze has survived the fire relatively intact, but now has a pale white appearance, akin to the original casting. The effect produced is of considerable beauty and intrinsic interest. It is proposed to retain the colour and texture of the walls, while carefully removing the elements that are charred and blackened by the fire.’
Details of decorative frieze revealed by the fire
Source: Morley von Sternberg
’The Grand Hall bar has been left largely intact by the fire, although soot-blackened. In Battersea Arts Centre’s consideration of the future use of the space with increased capacities, improved access and a more efficient serving layout are required. It is proposed to create an additional opening between the Grand Hall and the bar, allowing a more porous interaction between the two spaces. On the other side of the bar it is proposed that two new openings are made, improving links between the Municipal and Grand Hall buildings and creating a more direct route from the lift and wcs to the Grand Hall.’
Previous story (AJ 13.03.15)