By MICA Architects
Client BrickbyBrick for London Borough of Croydon
Awards RIBA London Award 2021
The locally listed Fairfield Halls arts venue in Croydon, designed by Robert Atkinson & Partners, was first opened in 1962 and successfully hosted an impressive list of performers and supported local schools, community events, music, opera, and amateur dramatic organizations. Over the years, however, poor quality additions and a lack of maintenance had left it run down, outdated, and unwelcoming.
Croydon Council embarked on a programme of works with a brief to refurbish, remodel and extend the building to help improve its accessibility, operation, and financial viability as a venue. The resulting building successfully fulfils that ambition with a number of key strategic interventions that unlock the whole facility’s usability for all its occupants.
The main concert hall, which is considered to have the finest acoustics for classical music in Europe, was carefully refurbished and included sensitively selected materials and lighting to match the original, alongside complimentary acoustic banners to improve performances with amplified music.
The Arnhem Gallery was completely rebuilt and extended to form a new link and provide a new performance and rehearsal space and a roof terrace. Its cladding is illuminated at high level to once again showcase the Halls at street level.
The interventions that improve accessibility site-wise for audiences, staff and performers are critical. These include opened-up circulation routes, newly installed lifts, strategically levelled areas of the main foyer, the more accessible car park and improved seating layouts for all auditoria.
The previously blank frontage facing the College Green has been activated with a new glazed extension housing a café and community studio, which is currently being used as a community vaccination centre.
A new CHP facility was built into the existing plant space which not only services Fairfield Halls but also a large community housing development adjacent to the site. It links to Halls’ MEP upgrades, the visible elements of which are sympathetic the building’s 1960s aesthetic.
Overall, the project succeeds in reviving a tired asset by bringing it bang up to date while staying true to its original look and feel. Fairfield Halls is restored as an important arts venue for the local community, setting the standard for Croydon’s ‘Cultural Quarter’ regeneration plans.
Contract Value £42,600,000
Internal Area 20,790 m²
Structural Engineers AKS Ward
Performance / Theatre Consultants Sound Space Vision
Environmental / M&E Engineers Max Fordham
Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant Gleeds
Access Consultant David Bonnett Associates