19 September 2019

Fairfield Halls opens its doors

Croydon has celebrated the re-opening of its iconic Fairfield Halls after an extensive refurbishment, re-modelling and extension by MICA

“After a £42m revamp, the arts powerhouse is back,” proclaimed the Guardian upon the re-opening of the Fairfield Halls. Closed for four years, the famous Croydon venue is now open to the public after being restored and extended by MICA.

The Ashcroft Theatre was officially opened on Monday 17th with an evening of performance by actress Dame Judi Dench, attended by London Mayor Sadiq Kahn and Tony Newman Leader of Croydon Council. The restored Concert Hall was reopened on Wednesday with a Gala Concert performance from the Fairfield Resident Orchestra - London Mozart Players, and many other varied musicians and spoken word artists.

Work throughout the project saw the extensive removal of hazardous asbestos, and replacement of all existing services, alongside the reinstatement of original features and fittings including refurbishment of the Concert Hall chandeliers, first installed in 1962.

Magnus Wills, Project Architect on the Halls, said: “All of the building services, including ventilation, lighting, electrics, fire alarm and sprinkler systems have been replaced to meet current standards. The foyer had become dark and unwelcoming following a series of unsympathetic additions over the years and the Ashcroft Theatre was riddled with asbestos. We did a lot of research. Looking at archive drawings and the original black-and-white photographs of the building from 1962’

“We’ve removed the clutter and restored the original design intent with new chandeliers to match the original designs in the sun lounge, new frameless glass entrance doors and restored the viewing balconies above the main foyer”

“We’ve added new creative spaces where the Arnhem arts facility used to be, plus installed a new glazed cloister facing College Green, off the revamped Ashcroft Theatre which we stripped back to the steel frame.”

Stuart Cade, project lead stated: “MICA is proud to have led the transformation of the Fairfield Halls to enhance the status of this nationally significant 1960s venue in the centre of Croydon. Our work has delivered new performance spaces and facilities, intelligent remodelling, technical upgrades and extensive conservation work to equip the celebrated Concert Hall, Theatre and accompanying creative spaces for performances and audiences over the next 50 years.”

The Halls has been enthusiastically received after opening with Oliver Wainwright from The Guardian describing it as a “handsome mid-century ocean liner of culture” that has been restored with a “mercifully light-touch”.

“Cylindrical columns, previously entombed in layers of woodchip and paint, have been restored to a smart polished black finish, while a tacky undulating ceiling has been torn down to expose a crisp sawtooth soffit. Majestic new chandeliers dangle above the sun lounge mezzanine,” states Wainwright.

Wainwright concluded that “Fairfield Halls has been saved and revamped. By any calculation, it’s a win for Croydon.”

The Telegraph in its 4-star review of the opening gala also declared it “a rousing reopening for a first-class concert hall”.

To read more about Fairfield Halls, click here.

For the Guardian’s full article on the Halls, click here.
To read the Telegraph’s review, click here.

Fairfield Concert Hall
Transformed foyer space
Ashcroft Theatre
1 / 3 Fairfield Concert Hall

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