Abba Arena

London, United Kingdom

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!

Abba Arena exterior.

Copyright Dirk Lindner.

The “comeback” performance, ABBA Voyage, is a nightly entertainment experience with the format of a live concert. In this case, the “live” performers are holograms of the ABBA band members created with motion capture technology. A live band accompanies the show along with immersive light, laser, and audio effects housed inside a bespoke, temporary, and reusable arena.

Charcoalblue were delighted to be appointed as the building-wide acoustic designers on this iconic new development. Advising on sound separation, room acoustics and noise control for the Arena from very early in the design process, it was an exciting and highly technical project to be involved with from conception through to completion.

Learn more about our collaboration with STUFISH on the Abba Voyage Arena in this short video originally produced for the International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference in the summer of 2023.

At the centre of the brief, the ABBA Arena was set to be the world’s largest demountable and transportable concert venue, and as a result, has been developed using mostly lightweight and sustainable interlocking materials; the main structure built from steel and timber, with extensive use of CLT (cross-laminated timber) the front of house spaces. The building has been designed and built to be flat-packed and relocated to another city, once its 5-year tenure in East London ends and by using these materials, no additional materials will have to be used to create the venue again.

Further to this requirement for transportability, the East London site is in a mixed commercial & residential area near the Pudding Mill Lane DLR station, so the auditorium has been designed to a very high acoustic specification, that allows both minimum distraction from intrusive environmental noise and a negligible noise impact to the neighbouring noise-sensitive areas, situated a mere 65m away from its façade.

The 3,000-capacity, 5,000m2 GIA purpose-built venue to house their cutting-edge virtual 3D show (designed by none other than George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic) opened in May 2022 in East London, and is nothing short of an engineering marvel.

Abba Arena exterior.
Copyright Dirk Lindner.

Charcoalblue 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 there are no rigid connections between the inner and outer skins, thus increasing the overall acoustic performance of the auditorium envelope. The roof cassettes and modular wall panels, along with every building penetration and door, have carefully detailed acoustic seals. In a show as ground-breaking as this, we’re pleased to provide some of the more invisible innovation that makes it possible.

Gimme Gimme Gimme - ABBA Voyage

Photo by Johan Persson ABBA Voyage

Project Details

Client: Aniara Ltd.

Architect: Stufish Entertainment Architects

Budget: Confidential

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John Owens is a Charcoalblue Partner responsible for our North American practice.

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