Seductive and unforgettable
Wilton's Music Hall, Wapping
Tim Ronalds Architects for Wilton's Music Hall Trust
Contract value: £3m
RIBA London Conservation Award
RIBA London Building of the Year Award, sponsored by Marley Eternit
The atmosphere of the music hall behind dilapidated houses is seductive and unforgettable. You pass through a rambling pattern of interconnected (domestic scale) rooms before you discover the auditorium. This is how Wilton’s was when first built. The atmosphere is precious and could easily have been lost but the interventions have been designed in a manner that preserves the character.
Not a conventional restoration, it was driven by aesthetics. The architect followed a principle of ‘doing only what is essential’ and ‘an enormous amount of care and ingenuity went into apparently doing nothing’. The Hall has been invisibly strengthened, sound-proofed, heated and ventilated. Everything possible was preserved: from disused roofs, Georgian brickwork, fragments of plaster, ceramic electrical fittings, to an abandoned bird’s nest. Leaving aside the historical importance of the building as the last surviving music hall in London, this is pure theatre and an experience to really savour.