The Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House ‘Open Up’ Project

The Royal Opera House ‘Open Up’ Project, led by architects Stanton Williams, was a major piece of redevelopment to a fully operational Cultural Venue.

The Open Up Project created a new 400 seat theatre called the Lindbury Theatre, a downstairs foyer, a new public terrace overlooking Bow Street, a refurbished Amphitheatre Terrace, which has been partially enclosed to form an all-year winter garden overlooking the Covent Garden piazza and ‘Opened Up’ the downstairs to the public to encourage greater public engagement.

To complement the existing hardware installed in our original project and the beautiful American Black Walnut joinery expertly built and installed by SwiftCrafted, we specified hand burnished brass – a living finish for the ironmongery and concealed hardware to complement and update the interior.

Specification – ‘Open Up’ Project

  • Concealed hinges
  • Maintenance-free butt hinges
  • Concealed overhead door closers
  • Floor springs for heavy doors
  • Hand burnished brass lever handles
  • Hand burnished brass pull handles of various lengths
  • Hand burnished brass full length push plates
  • Vertical edge signage on doors
  • Extension of original master key suite to add further suites and sub-suites
  • Bespoke products cast to match original features

Our triple RIBA/GAI Award winning client

We have been honoured with contracts for the Royal Opera House on two separate occasions; first as architectural ironmongers for the original refurbishment in the 1990’s when the Royal Opera House was shut to the public for 5 years whilst renovations were underway and more recently for the ‘Open Up’ Project, completed in 2018.

The Royal Opera House is a British Cultural Icon, now drawing in over a million visitors each year and over 1,000 staff and contractors using the building daily. As a result, the ironmongery has to be of the highest possible standards – coping with not only a huge amount of use from the general public but also security requirements and wear and tear from all that comes with the internal operations of a working theatre; dance rehearsals, catering trolleys, set building and more.

Specification – Original Refurbishment:

  • Polished bronze ironmongery front of house, stainless steel finish back of house, selected in differing designs including some bespoke for Front of House areas 
  • First-ever fire-rated concealed door shear maglock 
  • All areas used a high-tech (for the time!) concealed access control system working alongside the latest fire alarm activated door closing devices. 
  • Touch-sensitive devices on the ironmongery to release the secured Auditorium doors 
  • Low-energy, silent-running automatic operators to Lobby & Accessible Toilet Doors 
  • Maintenance-free hinges 
  • Complex master key suited system with over 800 cylinders provided across 15 sub-suites 
  • Purpose made fittings, including pull handles were cast to match original pieces in the bronze finish designed to naturally age 
  • Bespoke door signage 
  • Extra height kick plates for door protection 
  • Touch-release external doors 

The Royal Opera House Refurbishment

The major refurbishment of the Royal Opera House was originally undertaken in the mid-late 90’s, architects, Dixon Jones & BDP, turned to us when the client challenged them with sourcing ironmongery which maintained the tradition and splendor of the House, but which also complied with the latest standards. Given the previous experience of our scheduling and problem-solving skills, the architects’ asked us to provide the ironmongery schedule for each and every door including some doors where brand new solutions and products were required to suit the clients’ requirements. 

We were honoured to be awarded the ironmongery contract for these renovations which was originally overseen by the late John Planck. The logistics involved in supplying the ironmongery to this project were very complex with over 2,000 doors and 8 different contractors carrying out the works. The 1995-99 renovations were substantial, affecting all areas of the 4 separate buildings that were to be developed and joined to fall under 1 roof.  

We were recently granted access to photograph the original ironmongery to put the original project forward for the GAI’s Jubilee Award – an award that recognises longevity where the project and ironmongery best demonstrates the same continued performance and excellence as when it was first installed, where it has functioned flawlessly throughout its lifetime and has contributed to the function of the building.

After a tour spanning several floors and being able to witness practice areas for the Royal Ballet, stage sets being constructed and manoeuvred around the vast backstage area, it is very clear to understand that the building & it’s doors and ironmongery take a severe amount of use and require durability of the highest degree, so they are thankful that their investment at the beginning has exceeded their expectations. 

Royal Opera House Image Galleries

Original Project Gallery (1990s refurbishment)

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