SODA Architects’ Boulevard Theatre celebrates the Art Deco glamour of Soho
A new theatre in the heart of Soho, courtesy of SODA Architects and part of the Walkers Court scheme, celebrates the neighbourhood’s long standing tradition as an entertainment hub for London
Soho’s heritage as an entertainment hub is honoured in a new scheme by SODA Architects. The firm has transformed a former brothel in the London neighbourhood into a high-tech revolving theatre with Art Deco cues. Not only does The Boulevard’s seating and balcony rotate but the stage changes levels.
Through thoughtful design, the architects have made this small space work hard and look good. In the auditorium, the specially-designed leather and beech seats tip up and stack horizontally. And the dark blue wall panels are staggered to improve acoustics.
The dressing rooms have windows – a welcome novelty for actors – and SODA-designed dressing tables in pale birch-faced ply, whose desk-tops flip up to reveal a mirror. Throughout the building, the handrails are covered in leather, which was hand-stitched by a single artisan.
The Art Deco touches in the bar include the white marble countertop, brass detailing, fluted glass and dusty pink walls. Some of the inset mirrors in the classy toilets have an antique rose effect, and the cubicle doors are a warm rosewood veneer.
SODA director Russell Potter explains the reasoning behind the Art Deco flavour: ‘We wanted to evoke the spirit and decadence of the 1920s, the glamour of a night in the West End and the birth of the jazz age.’
The architects worked with theatre specialist Charcoalblue to make the theatre space as flexible as possible, so that it could host myriad events in one day. By pushing the first floor out over the insalubrious alley below in a cantilevered bubble shape, more seating could be added. Two parts of the scheme – containing the theatre and bar - are linked by a glazed enclosed ‘bridge’.
This is the first phase of the Walker’s Court development for client Soho Estates. §