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PROJECT REPORT: HERITAGE & HISTORIC BUILDINGS


The brief is to keep the character of the building –


we are trying to preserve it Tony Dowling, Willmott Dixon


do enabling works but the process of assessing what can be saved and how to do that has delayed the start of the actual refurbishment. Work finally began in spring 2017 with the theatre floor being levelled and the scaffold erected. Eventually, all 1,200 original floorboards will be re-laid. “We’re numbering them, it’s a massive


jigsaw,” says Tony Dowling, whose role also includes liaising with the swathes of people who have contributed to making the long-running project happen while retaining as many of the building’s original features as possible.


Sticking to the theatre script


The restoration has only been made possi- ble by a major fund-raising project. The Heritage Lottery Fund initially awarded the project a grant of £844,800 to develop the proposals. This was followed by a larger £18.8m HLF grant, while the London Borough of Haringey pledged £6.8m and Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust (APPCT) committed to raising a further million. In addition, the Friends of Alexandra Palace Theatre, the Friends of Alexandra Palace Park, the Victorian Society and the Alexandra Palace Television Group have all backed the proposals. Dowling comments: “There’s friends of the BBC and friends of the theatre. Everyone has their view. It’s Grade II listed, so we are trying to save as much as possible. The goal is to keep the character of the building – we are trying to preserve it.” It’s clear that while the project involves saving as much of the theatre as possible, some parts were not only beyond saving, but had gone altogether. When the contrac- tor arrived on site, there was no seating in the theatre, in addition the balcony had (originally) been built at the wrong angle; it is being saved however and new retractable seating has been added above.


The theatre is the most complicated part of the project. On the other section of the restoration, comprising work to the East Court, Willmott Dixon are being allowed to remove some elements and have laid a new floor slab.


“The fabric of the building is in a reason- able state,” explains Wright, who adds: “This is going to be a ‘people’s area’ and


ADF SEPTEMBER 2017 WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK


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