Today I had to wear a jumper to go out. I would say summer is now over.
If you wander around Croydon in September you’ll see several Warhol-inspired pieces of art, as part of ‘Warhol Croydon’.
Fairfield Halls is currently undergoing £30m of development. More space is being added, capacity increased, and much work is being done to make the Halls more commercially useful. As part of Open House London, the Fairfield Halls was opened to a few tour groups. Asbestos has been removed, anything that needed restoring has been removed, and much of the fittings have been removed. The work of revamping the halls is just about to begin.
The original design of the Fairfield Halls was inspired by 1950s Scandinavian design, and its a sister building to the famous Royal Festival Hall. Much of the original vision has been lost over the years, with various addons and changes.
The main foyer was originally designed to be bathed in natural light. As part of the refurbishment, the box office which sits either side of the staircase will be narrowed to the same width as the stair case, and the doors will have their frames removed. The whole space will feel much bigger.
When I was a boy visiting the Fairfield in the 1990s, these little boxes on each side of the foyer were used as offices. Magnus Wills, an architect at Rick Mather Architects, who was giving us the tour, explained that their original purpose was just for the sheer joy of looking back down to the foyer – a return to more glamorous era of going to the theatre to be seen.
New highly-insulated glass will be added to the windows at the front of the Halls, keeping the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
More spaces are being added to the Halls, including a roof terrace and new studio above the Arnham Gallery. The existing structure can’t take the weight of another floor above it, so the whole structure is being replaced.
The new Arnham Gallery will be a ‘black-box’ style studio, so that it can be more functional for gigs and theatre.
On the north side of the Halls, the Ashcroft Theatre is gaining increased capacity up to 800 seats from 750, and changes made to back-of-house to allow for easier access. The loading bay will have capacity for two articulated lorries to load at the same time.
In classical circles, the Concert Hall at the Fairfield Halls is highly-regarded. However, it’s not so suitable for amplified music. A great deal of work is going to be done to give more access above the stage for a more sophisticated rig (and somewhere to hide the cinema screen when not in use).
All but the last two rows of the choir stalls are being removed and replace with a height-adjustable floor, so that the stage can be dramatically increased in size when required, or back to tiered choir seating.
The original 1964 organ has been removed for refurbishment back to Harrison & Harrison, the Durham-based manufacturer who made it and the organ in the Royal Festival Hall.
On the outside, the listed building will remain mostly the same, but things that have been added on such as the external walkways will be removed or replaced.
Behind the purple fence is College Green, which will be completely redesigned and spaces made for restaurants and shops to open onto the Green. Better access from East Croydon and 220 new homes replacing the multi-story car park will bring more people into the area and stop making it feel like such a wasteland.