Architect submits plan to transform West End theatre into first European base for Cirque du Soleil

SPPARC has unveiled its plans to transform a grade II-listed cinema building in the heart of London’s West End into the first European base of Cirque du Soleil.

Proposals submitted to Camden council for developer Yoo Capital would see the partial demolition of the Saville Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue and the addition of a six-storey roof extension.

SPPARC and Yoo, which are already working together on the £1.3bn redevelopment of the Kensington Olympia, first revealed their intentions last autumn.

The existing building, now a four-screen Odeon cinema, was one of the largest theatres in the West End when it was built in 1931 with a capacity of 1,530.

Designed by TP Bennett founder Thomas Bennett, it originally included a three-tiered basement theatre which staged a series of celebrated plays from the 1930s to the 1950s.

In 1966 it was converted into a music venue by Brian Epstein, manager of The Beatles, and hosted performances by Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, Elton John and the Bee Gees before it was reconfigured as a cinema in 1970.

Under SPPARC’s proposals the building would be returned to its original use as a theatre and its basement levels would be further excavated to provide a “world-class” theatre space for Canadian circus producer Cirque du Soleil.

The ground floor would contain a theatre lobby, box office and front of house facilities, while the newly added roof extension would become a luxury boutique hotel operated by Citizen M.

The practice said the scheme would “ensure the survival of the deteriorating grade II-listed building.”

The project team includes planning, heritage and townscape consultant Montagu Evans, structural and civil engineer Pell Frischmann, sustainability consultant Hoare Lea, landscape designer RPS Group, QS Gardiner & Theobald and transport consultant Momentum.

SPPARC and Yoo are working with Heatherwick Studio and Haworth Tompkins on the Olympia redevelopment, which will also include a new theatre as well as a live music venue, 550,000 sq ft of offices, dozens of new bars and restaurants, four exhibition halls and two new hotels.

Yoo’s other projects in the capital include an AHMM-designed revamp of Shepherd’s Bush Market which was approved by Hammersmith & Fulham council last December.

{ SOURCE: Building }