London's West End is getting its first newly built theatre in 50 years, located adjacent to the former site of the demolished Astoria Theatre in Soho. @sohoplace will open with a theatrical production to be announced this fall.
Owned by producer Nica Burns and operated by Nimax Theatres, @sohoplace will feature a flexible performance space with 602 seats, but the venue will debut configured in the round. A project 12 years in the making, the curved auditorium will reportedly feature "perfect" sightlines from every seat and offer an intimate relationship between audience members and actors, with no seat being more than six rows from the stage. The 285,000 square-foot building will also include a rehearsal room, green room, bar and terrace, and a public restaurant and bar open from midday to midnight. A double-sided, 56'x10' digital screen will face Charing Cross Road, and the front façade of the building will feature another large screen.
The building was designed by architect and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris Co-Founder Simon Allford, who worked with engineering firm Arup and construction company Laing O'Rourke to realize the plans. Among the engineering challenges for the structure were building directly on top of three tube lines, including Crossrail's new Elizabeth train line, which features ventilation fans extracting hot air from the platform below 365 days a year.
"The incredible team of engineers pulled off the greatest of structural feats, building over a major underground transport hub—a challenging place to build a theatre—achieving perfect acoustics and no vibrations," shares Burns in a statement. "I wanted to create a theatre which could add a different dimension to our vibrant West End landscape. I asked our greatest theatre creatives two questions: If we could build a new theatre in the heart of the West End, what would you like it to be? What additional facilities would be on your wish list? ... [And] that’s what we built."
The ground floor restaurant and bar are expected to open mid-September before the performance space debuts. @sohoplace will be wheelchair accessible for both audiences and performers, with accessible toilets on all levels and backstage.