The Coliseum, English National Opera

RHWL, Central London, 2004


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Macham's masterpiece restored 

Hufton + Crow (website)     Download Original

  • Macham    
  • The Coliseum seen from Trafalgar Square    
  • The exterior of the glass conservatory    
  • The elegant refit of the balconies    
  • Opening up the top floor to the bar-restaurant    
  • Opening up the top floors at the front of the building    
  • Upper tier circulation    
  • The grand refurbishment of the auditorium interior tiers    
  • The refurbished auditorium with air-supply nozzles discreetly set in the existing slots at the base of the dome    
  • The basement bar    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Upper circle floor plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • Sculpting the slave boys and the lions    
  • Contemporary glass vaulted roof    
  • A contemporary glass vaulted roof    

Refurbishment of the Coliseum, the Georgian home of the English National Opera

The auditorium is the centrepiece of the project. Restored to its original scheme of white, red and gold, with the marble and alabaster stripped of coats of paint, decorative swags and curtains were all reinstated as well as new seats for the auditorium and the integration of the balcony. From the balcony there is access to an external viewing point with fine views to St Martin-in-the-Fields and to Trafalgar Square.

The old plan had poor provision for toilets, inadequate bars, defective ventilation (especially in the orchestra pit), lack of disabled access and the presence of acoustic ‘black spots’ in the auditorium, whch were all redesigned for the restoration.

The new conservatory is s modern steel and glass structure that flattens out at the top as Matcham’s circular-vaulted original tower stands.

Structural improvements include; a new feature staircase from the foyer to the cloakrooms in the basement; a new floor at balcony level for a bar with views across Trafalgar Square and enlargement of the orchestra pit.


  • Begun: Jan 2002
  • Completed: Feb 2004
  • Floor area: 12,000m2
  • Total cost: £41M
  • Funding: National Lottery
  • Tender date: Jun 2001
  • Procurement: Construction management with packaged procurement
  • Address: English National Opera, London Coliseum, St. Martin's Lane, Central London, WC2N 4ES, United Kingdom

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