London’s Alexandra Palace Theatre will open to the public for the first time in 80 years this weekend following a mammoth £27m restoration.
Stirling Prize-winners Feilden Clegg Bradley restored the Victorian Theatre and East Court, which opened in 1875 and once held audiences of 3,000 people. The BBC took over the Ally Pally in 1935, using it as a props store, but the building fell into disrepair following a fire in the 1980s which left chunks of it derelict.
The practice has shored up the structure but left its patinaed skin on show – a testament to the theatre’s riches-to-rags history.
‘We have embraced what we have found, resisting the temptation to tidy up,’ says the practice. ‘New interventions are minimal, and have their own vocabulary, allowing the craftsmanship and original work to remain at the fore. As a result, the building has been held in suspended animation.’
Seating has been modernised and sight-lines improved, while the old bar and foyer – previously bricked up – have been reopened. The 1,700 sqm glass-roofed East Court (pictured above), which feels like a Victorian railway station, has also been restored.
Alexandra Palace Theatre reopens from 1 December, Alexandra Palace Way, London, N22 7AY