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Individual Project Interiors

Theatre’s dramatic lighting draws inspiration from the past

“A beautiful restoration,” Kate Davis, Judge.

Project: Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Award: Interiors - Lighting projects, Gold, 2022

Location: London, UK

Design practice: BDP

Client: Theatre Royal Drury Lane

The new lighting scheme for the Grade I listed Theatre Royal Drury Lane is part of the wider refurbishment of the building, which was built in 1810. The painstaking scheme merges lighting methods of the 19th and 21st centuries to showcase the building’s architecture and provide drama and atmosphere. The designers studied drawings, financial records and publications from the theatre's long history to determine the focus of the lighting in each space. They used a series of hidden fixtures to reduce contrast, wash ceilings, spotlight artworks or integrated details to fixed furniture, steps or handrails. The finished result gives the impression that the light emanates from the historic light fixtures.

Design highlights

The lighting team worked closely with the architects to determine how each paint finish looks in daylight and under the warm candle light that transforms each space in the evenings. The lighting brings together an innovative combination of stage technologies and latest low energy LED lamps with 18th century techniques of glass cutting and candelabras to create a warm ambience in keeping with the historic interiors. The theatrical control system has even enabled a simulated flicker to be broadcast through the standard lamps for an effect as close as possible to the original 1810 lighting scheme.

    Photo credit: Philip Vile & Tom Niven 

    • LEAD DESIGNER: Colin Ball
      ARCHITECTS: Haworth Tompkins Architects

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