The Royal Academy of Music

The Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE) was honoured to have worked as access consultant to Ian Ritchie Architects who worked on revitalising the Royal Academy of Music’s performance space, adding a new recital hall.
The Academy’s 1970s theatre wasn’t accessible to people with impaired mobility. Working with Ian Ritchie Architect, we advised removal of the stairs, and new stairs placed on either side of the auditorium, which also incorporated a new lift making the theatre fully accessible for the first time.
Brian Heron, Project Architect, at Ian Ritchie Architects Ltd said:

“We worked in collaboration with CAE from the start of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBAs) Stage C Conceptual Design Stage in 2011, right through until handover in 2018. Together, we developed a strategic vision, which sought to achieve total accessibility for everyone, and the term ‘disability’ was viewed in its broadest sense to include issues relating to impaired mobility, sight, comprehension and hearing.
“Our aim was to provide an inclusive environment throughout. Access issues continued to be considered throughout the design process in an iterative process to ensure a fully inclusive design.”

The new lift has glazed doors on two sides and receives daylight from above and serves the upper stalls and balcony levels of the theatre, as well as the recital hall above.
Wheelchair spaces are provided at stalls and balcony level, offering a choice of viewing positions and levels. The new lift also means that, for the first time, the basement, with its newly refurbished percussion studios, practice rooms and the concert room is fully accessible.

“CAE brought serious, high-level accessibility advice to the table, helping the client and the design team navigate their way through a very complicated project on a heavily constrained historic site,” said Brian.
“The consultants were extremely professional, proactive and were committed to helping the client achieve their goal of delivering two new world-class performance spaces in the heart of the Academy.”

The Royal Academy of Music has won 16 national design awards including RIBA, Civic Trust and AJ Specification Award.
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