Royal Opera House

BDP, Dixon Jones, London, 1999


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Behind the scenes in the main auditorium 

Rob Moore     Download Original

  • Behind the scenes in the main auditorium    
  • The ROH    
  • Floral Hall facade detail    
  • The roof profile expresses the flytower, the top-lit ballet studios, and terraces    
  • The new arcade around the piazza    
  • View into the piazza from the new arcade    
  • A loggia runs at roof level    
  • Bow Street incorporates frontages of modern design alongside the original theatre    
  • The Floral Hall    
  • The Floral Hall, restored and used as the main foyer space    
  • View into Floral Hall from amphitheatre bar above    
  • The barrel roof of the Floral Hall. The nineteenth century greenhouse technology has been transformed into the well-tempered environment expected of a late twentieth century public foyer    
  • The main auditorium designed by Charles Barry has been restored    
  • A vast three storey space allows sets to be moved on stage wagons    
  • Aesthetically the Studio Theatre is a dark grey interior with steel framed galleries and a light oak floor    
  • For the first time in its history the Royal Ballet has its own ballet studios. Four have been constructed within the roofscape overlooking the piazza    
  • Internally the ballet studios are airy spaces 8m high and suffused with natural light from a large central rooflight    
  • Key site plan showing the new connection between Bow Street and the new arcade around the Covent Garden Piazza    
  • Isometric cut away at upper levels    
  • A view of Covent Garden and the Royal Opera House before work commenced    
  • The Bow Street frontage nears completion    
  • Cross-sections through floral hall staircase and mezzanine    
  • Cut away isometric and section through staircase    

Expansion and renovation of the Royal Opera House, which occupies an entire urban block in London's Covent Garden

Enclosing and repairing London’s first square, the scheme reconnects the Royal Opera House to Covent Garden piazza, creating a new ‘mid-block’ connection between Bow Street and the corner of the new arcade, which provides an almost continuous shopping frontage.

At the urban scale, the architects created a collage of buildings using various styles – a historic neo-classical style on the square; modern street facades and repair and reconstruction to existing nineteenth century facades elsewhere.

Internally, the project has improved the technical and social functioning of the opera house for staff and visitors, with the refurbishment of the existing auditorium and foyers, accommodation for the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet including rehearsal facilities and a second auditorium, and reconstruction of part of the Floral Hall.

The existing Grade I listed auditorium, has been both faithfully refurbished to preserve its essential character and extensively modernised to improve sightlines, acoustic performance, audience comfort, access, audience facilities, seating capacity and theatrical lighting.

Vertical access by escalator and lifts, disabled access to all parts of the building, access for the general public to areas of the foyers during the day contribute to a more open Royal Opera House.


  • Begun: Jul 1996
  • Completed: 1999
  • Floor area: 50,000m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £140M
  • Funding: National Lottery grant
  • Tender date: Dec 1997
  • Procurement: Construction Management
  • Address: Bow St, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD, United Kingdom

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