People’s Palace

Client: Queen Mary and Westfield College

Year: 1996 Budget: £1.3 million

The People’s Palace was constructed in 1935 to replace an earlier Victorian theatre on the site, destroyed by fire. The building consisted of an 850-seat theatre (the Great Hall), a 400-seat music hall, together with foyers and other ancillary spaces. Following the acquisition of the building by the University in the 1950s, it was extended and adapted for academic use.

These alterations had lost much of the clarity of the original plan and the aim was to re-order the circulation spaces to provide improved legibility and access, to both the theatre and new facilities. Existing spaces were remodelled to provide three new lecture rooms for academic use. The original foyer has been restored to its former use and a new main stair and lift inserted, linking all levels of the building. The original connection from foyer to theatre has been restored, allowing the foyers to serve events in the Great Hall once again, as well as in the lecture theatres.