Every client wants a cultural space that is at once wonderful and workable, awe-inspiring and effective. It has to work on both an artistic and commercial level, so whether you are creating a brand-new theatre or reworking a warehouse into a cutting-edge gallery, Buro Happold can help create your vision.

With decades of experience, our engineering and planning consultants will create a spaces and outcomes that work for all users; staff, performers, visitors, the audience and other stakeholders.

From optimising visitor experience and improving access at the Natural History Museum, to developing a flexible performance space at The Factory, Manchester, Buro Happold’s cultural venue consultants will work with you on every level, offering innovative solutions from everything from acoustics to air conditioning. We understand that outstanding cultural centres stem from great vision. We have the expertise and flexibility to help you achieve this.

Improving the impact of cultural venue design

Buro Happold’s cultural venue designers are combining rigorous research and analysis with the latest technologies to deliver strategies that drive economic and social success in the creative arts. Assessing the implications for policy makers and the industry alike

From our ‘Venue of Value’ research seminars that lead to the identification of eight themes at the heart of successful cultural enterprises, to the development of tools for what-if scenario testing that enable real-time decision making, Buro Happold advisory services provide real insight that drive economic and social vitality.

The NYC Small Theatre Industry Cultural and Economic Impact Study is just one example of such work. The study uncovered the direct, in-direct and induced benefits of small theatre’s in New York City through quantitative analysis of revenues, jobs and wages earned, as well as qualitative assessment of the cultural and workforce trends for the industry.

The Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow helped regenerate a whole district. St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn acts as a creative hub for new and established performers as well as the local community. A former greenfield site, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas, is viewed as a cultural icon of the future. Different cultural buildings, different challenges, but by using Buro Happold’s expertise, we created cultural hubs that enrich the landscape and add value to the local community surrounding them.

Services we offer in the Cultural sector


  • Feasibility and economic viability assessments
  • Cultural Impact Assessment
  • Cultural Venue Analytics
  • Masterplanning
  • Environmental assessments
  • People flow studies and wayfinding
  • Transport and access assessments
  • Civil, Structural and facade design
  • Building environmental, mechanical and electrical engineering
  • Acoustics, lighting and building services engineering
  • Inclusive design
  • Fire, security and technology services
  • Post occupancy evaluation

Cultural Venue Analytics

Cultural Venue Analytics provides a real-time, interactive ‘day in the life’ model. The tool empowers key decision makers by enabling them to rapidly test scenarios and options to see which one delivers the best outcomes.

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Project Highlights

Creating A New Cultural District For London

Stratford Waterfront at East Bank

Stratford Waterfront at East Bank is the lynchpin of a new cultural and educational district in Queen Elizabeth Park. Buro Happold is working on the development alongside Allies and Morrison, O’Donnell + Tuomey, and Arquitecturia.

The Stratford Waterfront development contains new buildings for the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sadler’s Wells, University of the Arts, the London College of Fashion, as well as the BBC Concert Studios, housing the BBC Symphony Orchestra and rock and pop studios. The cultural and educational buildings will be supplemented with a significant new residential development, which both helps fund the development and supports the creation of a diverse new neighbourhood. This project builds on our ongoing relationship with Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford.

Radical. Challenging. Visionary.

Museum of the Future, Dubai

The Museum of the Future symbolises both future progress and the regional design influence of Dubai with its use of modern materials, and Arabic poetry written by HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum which is represented in 3D on the facade surface. The quotations express his vision for the future of Dubai.

Translating the artistic and symbolic concepts inherent in the design into a 30,000m² (approx.) building clad in stainless steel was always going to be a challenge. Add to that the building’s unique torus shape, the client’s requirement to attain LEED Platinum status, and the team’s determination to embrace BIM at every stage of design and construction, then clearly, the building’s centre void is not the only aspect of this project that represents a step into the unknown.

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new shanghai library renders

Sanctuary for knowledge in Shanghai

Shanghai Library East

Arranged as a series of open plan floors around a central 60,000m3 atrium, the main library will house 4.8 million books, and sit atop two pavilions that contain a 1,200 seat performance venue, exhibition and events space, and a dedicated children’s library. Taking into account the Shanghai climate, hot and humid in summer yet cold in winter, we proposed the use of an innovative radiant floor system combined with conditioned air supplied at a low level to enable displacement ventilation. This low energy strategy ensures temperate conditions that suit visitors and books alike.

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A new cultural icon nestled between two of Berlin’s most significant buildings

Nationalgalerie20 (NG20), Berlin

This exciting new museum will house a significant part of the Berlin State Museum’s 20th century art collection. The design challenges include; an exacting gallery climate specification, intricately linked atrium and gallery spaces, an expressive facade with varying levels of translucency, and a highly constrained site. Buro Happold is working closely with Herzog & de Meuron to optimise basement technical space design, and developed a cascaded ventilation system. The engineering thus enables the gallery floors and roof to remain largely free of technical equipment, allowing the museum to remain architecturally pure.

“We are delighted to have played a part in this winning design by architects Herzog & de Meuron. The new museum building will become integral to the city of Berlin, it will complete the Kulturforum

Stephen Jolly, Cultural Sector Leader

Enhancing visitor experience through data

Barbican Centre, London

As “Engineers in Residence” for the Barbican’s Life Rewired event we investigated the impact of the digital revolution on culture and society. Data was gathered in order to see how visitors experience the Centre and gain insights into how we may find opportunities to enhance the visitor experience.

Visitors were able to see the progress of their research and discover how we might put this to use in the future during a highly interactive drop-in exhibition.

View the interactive dashboard

New ways to learn about science and share in the excitement of discovery

AMNH Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, USA

The new center is a significant expansion to the American Museum of Natural History and aims to create a landmark entry for the AMNH facility, greatly enhance visitor circulation and connect an array of existing galleries to new ones. It will highlight intellectual links across scientific disciplines and facilitate interaction within classrooms, laboratories, collections and library resources. Working with the design team, Buro Happold provided multidisciplinary engineering services including MEP/FP engineering, fire analysis, energy analysis, facade design, and energy studies for the project.

Read more about these projects in our sector brochure

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