Alexandra Palace, London
Alexandra Palace, affectionately labelled the People’s Palace, was originally built in 1873, and rebuilt in 1875 following a devastating fire. In 1936 its Victorian dining rooms were converted to accommodate an experiment in brand new technology: high definition television. With the addition of the now iconic transmitter mast, Alexandra Palace became known the world over as the birthplace of modern television.
The HLF project presents a fantastic opportunity to explore the evolution of entertainment at Alexandra Palace. It will begin with the days of Victorian spectacle when people travelled to the venue to see zoos, circuses and stunt shows as well as music, theatre and pantomime, moving through a conversion of the theatre into one of the first dedicated picture houses, and on to the invention of broadcasting, where entertainment was transmitted to the people through the ‘new’ miracle of television.
Within the palace is a huge Victorian theatre which in its prime hosted countless large-scale performances, spectacles and church services. Charcoalblue are working alongside FCB Architects to re-open the theatre to the public whilst retaining its rich and varied history. The auditorium is being sensitively re-worked to allow create a flexible space that can host performances and events ranging from 500 seat in-the-round drama, to 1,000 seat concerts and events. The introduction of cutting edge infrastructure and a flexible seating system that can be hidden or removed, will work alongside the historic timeline of the performance space, so that it can be once again enjoyed by audiences.