De Matos Ryan

De Matos Ryan

London, GB

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Sadler's Wells refurbishment

De Matos Ryan has been responsible for the refurbishment of Sadler’s Wells in Islington, London’s premier international dance house.


The refurbishment makes a range of important improvements to Sadler’s Wells ensuring that the organisation, its buildings and equipment are made resilient and able to operate at full capacity, be energy efficient and environmentally sustainable, offer optimal accessibility and increase the overall visitor experience.

The theatre, part of a Grade II-listed historic site, has undergone several alterations over the years, including a modern ‘wrapping’ which envelopes the auditorium. Largely rebuilt in 1998, the renowned venue was in need of significant renewal to maintain its position as London’s premier international dance house.

The refurbishment increases the theatre’s visibility and reveals a renewed interior as part of a strategy that enhances the journey from pavement to auditorium with a newly transformed foyer to prepare visitors for the experience that awaits them.

The addition of a striking new luminous portal to the entrance enhances the building’s presence on Rosebery Avenue through the use of glowing red-tinted glass. Set against the existing 4-storey glazed elevation, the 5.4m wide by 2.7m high portal highlights the main point of public access and provides a clear connection to the main auditorium identified by its distinctive Sadler’s Wells red at the heart of the building.

A new LED lighting scheme introducing indirect lighting transforms the glazed façade into a window of light, giving greater visibility into the building. Carefully calibrated, the new lights use less energy, while helping to characterise and define the interior spaces. The open stair within the main foyer reaches 4-storeys high and is now given centre stage with a new ‘ribbon of light’ detail along the stair stringers, concealing cabling while animating the glass frontage.

Interior surfaces have also been overhauled, and an enhanced tonal palette of colours and materials is used throughout the foyer spaces to gradually disconnect visitors from the hustle and bustle of city life and prepare them for the performance that lies ahead.

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Status: Built
Location: Islington, London
Firm Role: Architect
Additional Credits: Project Management: Sadler’s Wells Foundation Ltd
CDM Coordinator: Jackson Coles
Quantity Surveyor: Gleeds Cost Management Ltd
M&E Services Engineer: E3 Consulting Engineers LLP
Structural Engineer: Edge Structures Ltd
Lighting Designer: Chapman BDSP
Acoustic Engineer: Arup
Building Contractor: City Sq

© Hufton+Crow
© Hufton+Crow
© Hufton+Crow
© Hufton+Crow
© Hufton+Crow
© Hufton+Crow