April 2015: Foster Wilson Architects has completed the restoration of Grade II* listed Hoxton Hall, a youth arts centre and one of Britain’s few surviving music halls.
The project provides new facilities for the youth arts centre and has restored the historic music hall. As part of the restoration, the upper and lower side balconies have been re-opened for public use, doubling the audience capacity of the main hall. Major structural works have been undertaken to ensure the building’s stability, and fittings that include fire surrounds, laylights and sunburners have been re-instated. By removing modern brick walls, cast iron windows have also been revealed on the original music hall façade.
The entrance to Hoxton Hall has been remodeled to create a welcoming foyer and box office, and the back stage facilities improved. Heating and other services have been modernised together with the main hall’s technical theatre installation to enable a wide variety of performances, shows and events to take place.
Contractor Fairhurst Ward Abbotts and a team of specialist consultants carried out the work, which was completed while Hoxton Hall remained open to run a programme of youth arts and community activities. Part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this is the second phase of the hall’s development and follows work in 2012 that repaired the fabric of the building, upgraded the café, music and art studios, and improved accessibility.
Edmund Wilson, partner at Foster Wilson Architects, said:
“Hoxton Hall is a very rare surviving music hall, a building of immense character and an amazing performance venue. We have undertaken a careful restoration that aims to retain the charm and character of the hall, and ensure that it remains open for public use well into the future. The knocks, scrapes and scuffs of years of use have been left for people to see so they can enjoy a building that wears its history with pride”
“For over five years we have been working with Hoxton Hall to help realise a careful restoration; we’re delighted that the hall will re-open again shortly as one of London’s best-loved performance venues to an increased audience.”
Karena Johnson, Artistic Director & CEO at Hoxton Hall, added:
“The beautifully detailed restoration work undertaken by Foster Wilson Architects of this living music hall will enable us make this unique auditorium accessible to a new generation of audiences from Hackney and beyond. The completion of the project marks the beginning of an exciting new era of performance at Hoxton Hall. We look forward to re-opening as a new home for contemporary variety performance alongside our extensive arts participation program.”
Built in 1863, the hall was extended in 1867 and had a relatively short life as a music hall, closing in 1871. The preservation of the hall is a result of its subsequent use as a Quaker meeting room and youth arts centre. Many of the theatre’s original features can still be seen today, including the ornate balcony fronts and columns. It is run by Hoxton Hall, an arts and education charity, who manage the building including its rehearsal rooms, dance studio and meeting rooms. Hoxton Hall fulfills a wide remit in the community as a Young Hackney Centre, performance venue and tourist destination.
The project was made possible by many funders including Heritage Lottery Fund, Garfield Weston, Arts Council – Grants for the Arts, The Foyle Foundation, Biffaward, Architectural Heritage Fund, and Charles Hayward Foundation.
Location: Hoxton, East London
Architect: Foster Wilson Architects
Main Contractor: Fairhurst Ward Abbotts
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers
Quantity Surveyor: Artelia UK
M&E Consultant: Skelly & Couch
Acoustic Consultant: Gillieron Scott Acoustic Design
Theatre Consultant: Theatreplan
Project Manager: Fanshawe
Photography by Peter Guenzel