Wright & Wright Architects / Chorus Rehearsal Room, Royal Opera House, London

Choristers can now enjoy enhanced facilities that prioritise their wellbeing and working conditions.

Words by Emily Martin
Images By Gareth Gardner


Client Wright & Wright Architects www.wrightandwright.co.uk
Theatre designer Theatre Projects www.theatreprojects.com
Client Royal Opera House www.alcock-lees.co.uk
Duration Two months www.parrypage-projects.com
Gross internal floor area 169 sq m

WRIGHT & WRIGHT ARCHITECTS has delivered a new rehearsal space for the world-renowned performing arts organisation, the Royal Opera House. The Chorus Rehearsal Room provides an updated facility for some 130 choristers whilst improving user wellbeing, working conditions and accessibility, the scheme was realised within a very tight delivery timeline with only the summer afforded between performance seasons to complete the redesign and works on site.

The acoustics of the facility have been entirely upgraded, allowing choristers to expend less vocal effort and preserve their voices

The project presented unique acoustic challenges and working with theatre design and engineering specialists, Theatre Projects, it delivered an elegant and coherent design of timber panelling, natural light and open sightlines. The design scheme balances out the room’s existing features while respecting the acoustic and theatrical requirements of its users.

At the core of the refurbishment was a desire to reduce vocal and aural stress for the chorus. It was noted prior to the refurbishment that the room acoustics were too dry, resulting in singers exerting more vocal effort, generating a higher level of rehearsal noise. Overcoming this, the acoustic design consists of bespoke diffusion and absorption elements which help enhance the sound of the chorus and provide appropriate vocal support and reverberation. The changes improve the conditions for the chorus, both aurally and visually.

The curved, tiered seating plan now affords clear sightlines to the Chorus Master

The refurbishment of the Chorus Rehearsal Room has also resulted in a complete redesign and reimagination of the space. Outdated seating, wall panels and redundant elements were stripped out, replaced by new bespoke panelling featuring removable elements and adjustable curtains, which provide the ability to adjust the acoustic response. To improve communication between chorus sections, the space has been outfitted with an elegantly curved, tiered seating plan, while customised music stands now afford improved sightlines to the Chorus Master. Finally, a stair riser has been installed to ensure accessibility.

Wright & Wright simplified installation and fabrication, preventing any closures or disruptions to the Royal Opera House’s public programme or daily operations, which continued to use the space throughout the summer of 2023.

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