Royal Holloway, University of London, The Boilerhouse Refurbishment

The University of London decided to convert a redundant Grade 1 listed 19th century boiler house into a new theatre which would provide a multi-purpose teaching space, as well as an additional performance area.

Originally, the building provided heating to the women’s college in 1886, the building was never designed to house full heating and mechanical ventilation.

Our ventilation design strategy had to take into account both the architect’s vision and the restrictions imposed by the building itself. For example, the solid floors as well as programme and budget considerations meant that underfloor air conditioning was not an option.

The Grade 1 listing created further challenges, as did the requirement for the new space to be multi-functional. Occupancy levels would vary from five or six to several hundred people. In addition, because the mobile raked seating could fold back when required, the solution needed to provide clear floor space.

To retain the industrial nature of the building, the brickwork was uncovered which in turn left exposed services. As M&E consultants, we worked closely with the architects to ensure that the M&E services worked well with the overall vision for the building.

Our design was sensitive to the character and fabric of the boiler house while incorporating all the services required for a modern teaching and performing space and meeting regulatory requirements.

A key aspect of our solution was the design of a displacement system, with side wall terminals installed down one side of the room.

As the solid floor and listed building restrictions limited the type of ventilation distribution we could provide to the auditorium, we carried out a number of iterations on a CFD model to ensure comfortable conditions in all areas of seating.

The Boilerhouse Studio Theatre is a modern theatre and performing space, fully equipped with multimedia technology but still retains all of the building’s original history and character.