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Charcoalblue 2022 Review


As we welcome a brand new year with an abundance of exciting opportunities ahead, we want to take a look back on 2022 and the projects we’ve seen through to fruition.

2022 was a fantastic year for Charcoalblue, and here are some of our highlights from brand-new theatres to state-of-the-art educational facilities.

@sohoplace - Image by Haworth Tompkins


2022 marked the completion and grand opening of London’s first new West-End Theatre in 50 years, @sohoplace. The theatre is a development on the corner of St. Giles Circus including a 600-seat adaptable theatre that can be used in numerous formats, including thrust and in-the-round.

Charcoalblue worked closely with architects Haworth Tompkins and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris to fit as much theatre as possible onto a very tight site and develop robust technical systems that are versatile to function in various configurations. This involved developing new solutions with specialist contractors and manufacturers, many of which were prototyped during the design phase.

Banff Centre Jenny Belzberg Theatre Auditorium - Image by Chris Couse

The Jenny Belzberg Theatre at Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity

This past year we celebrated the opening of The Jenny Belzberg Theatre at the Banff Centre, Canada’s largest postgraduate arts school.

Building on Charcoalblue’s masterplanning study undertaken in 2016 with Toronto’s KPMB Architects, the first project of a multi-phase revitalisation has been successfully completed with the renovation of the original theatre built in 1967. Phase one completed in the spring of 2022 with a celebration for the reopening of the newly named Jenny Belzberg Theatre, in recognition of a transformational gift from the Belzberg family, the largest in Banff Centre history.

ABBA Arena Exterior - Image by Dirk Lindner

ABBA Arena

ABBA rocked the entertainment world in 2021 when they announced they would be returning to action with a brand new album and live show, for the first time in over 40 years! Fast forward to 2022 and London opens its doors ABBA Voyage in the world’s largest fully demountable and transportable concert venue.

Charcoalblue’s Acoustics team worked closely with the design and construction teams, led by Stufish, and developed a twin-skin building structure where the inner and outer layers are decoupled by vibration isolators and resilient materials. Careful detailing was implemented to ensure no rigid connections between the inner and outer skins, thus increasing the overall acoustic performance of the auditorium envelope. In a show as ground-breaking as this, we were pleased to provide some of the more invisible innovation that makes it possible.

Studio Theatre Exterior

Studio Theatre, Washington DC

Studio Theatre was completed in April 2022. After nearly thirty years at the corner of 14th and P streets in Washington DC, Studio embarked on an extensive renovation project to create a more welcoming presence on 14th Street, more inviting public spaces, and better facilities for artists and audiences alike.

Working with Studio and Hickok Cole Architects, Charcoalblue studied multiple iterations of spatial re-configurations that would create a dynamic and technologically enabled flexible theatre that would be fit for Studio’s ambitious and expansive programming. The result, and centrepiece of the renovation, is the new Victor Shargai theatre.

ArtsEd Interior - Image by De Matos Ryan Architects


Arts Educational Schools is one of the UK’s most acclaimed performance training centres. The pioneering school has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring all of its operations onto its main site in South West London. The project was recently awarded a Civic Trust Award for 2023.

Phase 1 works, which were completed in 2022, included the rationalisation of the site to incorporate new academic teaching facilities and rehearsal rooms for dance, drama and musical theatre. Works involved partial demolition of existing courtyard structures, including the studio theatre, which needed replacing. The higher density of facilities and integration with the existing building has increased acoustic sensitivities, which our acousticians have carefully dealt with.

2023 will see the completion of Phase 2 works, where a new studio theatre will complement the Andrew Lloyd Webber Theatre, allowing the studio to become a more flexible space.

Singtel Waterfront Theatre In-the-Round

Singtel Waterfront Theatre

Completed in September 2022, the Singtel Waterfront Theatre is a new venue for The Esplanade Co. Ltd. The site for the theatre is a prime location on Marina Bay, adjacent to the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in Singapore.

Charcoalblue were engaged by The Esplanade Co. Ltd to create the initial concept for the new waterfront theatre and led a multi-disciplinary team to set out the vision and establish the project brief. The theatre will present a greater range of work both from international artists and those from Singapore, it is designed to accommodate music, dance and theatre productions, as well as it being suitable for Asian traditional arts.

Artist render of Padua College Exterior

Padua College

2022 saw our Charcoalblue’s Australia studio complete their second Theatre Consultancy and first education project, Padua College, a large Catholic co-educational secondary school in Mornington, Victoria.

The new Performing Arts Centre will be made up of a number of teaching and performing spaces, as well as change facilities and music practice rooms. Charcoalblue were part of the team designing a flexible creative theatre space with a capacity of 300 that has the ability to transform quickly from teaching format to show mode through retractable seating and mechanical decking while achieving a number of different seating configurations. Drama/Movement and Music Performance classrooms capable of hosting both informal performances and stage student exams are also incorporated in the building design

UCL PEARL Exterior - Image by Penoyre & Prasad


October 2022 saw the launch of UCL PEARL (Person Environment Activity Research Laboratory), a state-of-the-art, world-leading research facility dedicated to exploring the ways in which people interact with the environment around them.

With a footprint of over 4000m2 and a height of 10m, it supports life-sized recreation of real-world environments from train stations to high streets providing the perfect space for research into accessibility and mobility in its broadest sense.

Working alongside architects Penoyre & Prasad, Charcoalblue designed a vast technical infrastructure to support all the potential requirements of such a highly innovative and flexible facility. Installed technical systems allow the lighting intensity and hues, soundscapes and even smells to support each different environment to be recreated perfectly and with reliable repeatability.

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The Queen's Awards for Enterprise: International Trade 2020 UK Theatre Tonic Theatre Communications Group Carbon Literate Orginisation - Silver
John Owens is a Charcoalblue Partner responsible for our North American practice.

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