Theatre design and cultural venues that entertain

From historic theatre refurbishment to delivering contemporary performance arts facilities, Buro Happold has a wealth of experience in the cultural sector

Are you looking to realise a venue that offers a unique visitor experience?
Do you dream of creating a concert hall with unrivalled acoustic performance?
Would you like your theatre design  to steal the limelight from its competitors?

theatre design, theater design, cultural venue

Then read on. Because here at Buro Happold we understand what it takes to create showstopper venues that deliver clear benefits to both our clients and the wider cultural community.

For over 40 years, our engineers have been realising iconic theatre design and concert venues around the world. Whether you need an optimised auditorium that meets international standards of acoustic design, or performing arts facilities that focus on audience comfort, our specialist engineers can develop bespoke solutions to meet your unique requirements.

In today’s tempestuous commercial and social climate, we appreciate that it is vital for cultural venues to deliver tangible socio-economic benefits. That’s why we work closely with our clients and other sector leaders to understand the challenges they are facing, and drive forward change in our own practice in response.

By aligning our expertise with the needs of our clients in this way, we are able to deliver cultural projects with real star quality.

Innovative concert hall design: Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg

Elbphilharmonie concert venue

Elbphilharmonie is a venue like no other. The main 2,100-seat concert hall sits 37 metres above ground level, and the building itself is enclosed on all sides by a hotel, apartments and an 8 floor public plaza. Adding over 2,000 additional visitors to this already busy urban area would have created grid lock without the expert input of our Smart Space team. Combining the power of data with the capability of BIM, we created a ‘virtual space’ in which the team were able to create a people-centric concert hall design. Our analysis informed the location of ticket counters, security gates, vertical circulation, wayfinding and signage, cloakrooms, and even the bar, creating a sinuous symphony of people movement in and around the venue, and delivering an excellent visitor experience.

Unforgettable visitor experience: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre

This ambitious project transformed the visitor experience within this historic venue. As part of the new auditorium design, our engineers realised the largest thrust stage of its kind in the world, which projects the performance right out into the centre of the theatre and ensures no audience member is ever further than 15m from the action. We also created expansive front-of-house spaces that have the flexibility to accommodate a broad range of events that will attract a wider spectrum of visitors, and in doing so deliver significant benefits to the RSC as a business.

Flexible performing arts facilities: Xiqu Centre, Hong Kong

Xiqu cultural center

Behind the beautiful curvature of the Xiqu Centre’s iconic facade lies a dynamic building that provides flexible performing arts facilities. Named after Xiqu Opera, an art form that dates back to the third century, the Centre functions as both a platform for the development, production and enjoyment of Chinese opera and as host to a range of international cultural programmes designed to encourage collaboration across the arts. Providing integrated engineering services across all aspects of this project, our team realised the variety of performance, rehearsal and educational spaces required to make this building a visual and cultural landmark for the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Optimising acoustic performance: HOME, Manchester

Home Manchester cultural venue

Realising this flagship new arts centre on a former brownfield site in central Manchester posed a variety of challenges, not least the technical constraints of its location. Among these was the busy adjacent railway line, which presented huge problems for our acoustic team in terms of noise permeating into the performing arts facilities. Working closely with the architect, our structural engineers developed a ‘box within a box’ theatre design, that effectively isolated the performance spaces from both vibration and noise from the railway line. As a result, cinema, theatre and art fans alike are able to enjoy the varied programme on offer within this vibrant arts hub without interruption.

Exceptional auditorium design: The National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Concert Hall, Katowice

The National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Concert Hall

Our specialist engineers worked closely with the architect to develop an auditorium design that provided an unrivalled acoustic performance. The challenge facing our team was to deliver structural and mechanical solutions that would meet the strict acoustic requirements of the orchestra, while also creating a comfortable interior environment for the audience. We implemented imaginative strategies – such as locating ventilation units outside the building and designing bespoke displacement air diffusers for inside the auditorium – to realise an acoustic environment that meets the highest standards, as set out by renowned consulting firm Nagata Acoustics. Hearing is believing.

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