Queen’s Theatre Refurbishment
Delfont Mackintosh Theatres Ltd
London, United Kingdom
Bolt & Heeks
Aedas - Arts Team
Banks Wood & Partners
Design and construction of complex structural alterations to a Grade II listed West End theatre. involving the removal of loadbearing vault walls and construction of new steelwork to support vault arches beneath the adjacent highway, and the creation of new stage level space by partially removing a primary loadbearing curved masonry wall from basement to second floor level. Operations above and below stage level comprised underpinning, encased and composite structural steelwork, Pynford stooling, reinforced concrete cantilever ribbed slab and composite diaphragm shear walls. This was all achieved without interruption to rehearsals and daily performances.
This relatively financially modest refurbishment project fully merits inclusion among its more grandiose peers. Removal of a loadbearing brick wall in a complex structural environment is one thing; to do so within the stage area in a major West End theatre without disrupting either shows or rehearsals is quite another. Working in an extremely restricted environment, using only equipment and sections capable of being manhandled into position, and after many iterations, the contractor’s team devised a programme of works which would allow full continuity of use for the theatre in all its aspects. Restricted working hours, multiple temporary stability conditions, insertion of concrete and steel structures at height over the stage, temporary supports to brick vaults in the basement and the use of 3D design to ensure absolute accuracy of structural elements (including reinforcement to the concrete members) were just some of the parameters that make this particular project so special. It is also a tribute to the essential collaboration between client, architect, consulting engineer and specialist contractor, and without the latter’s expertise and dedication this project would surely never have seen the light of day.