The former Clapham Granada cinema and theatre was built in 1937. During the 1980’s the building saw service as a Gala Bingo Hall before it was vacated in the early 1990’s and subsequently fell victim to squatting and vandalism. In 1999 the Former Gala Bingo Hall was listed Grade II*.
The principal existing elements: the fly tower, the auditorium and various staircase enclosures are of brick (with a substantial steel frame behind) and appear to have been influenced by contemporary Dutch modernist work. Internally the (originally) 3000-seat auditorium was executed in an opulent neo-classical style by the celebrated theatrical designer Theodore Komisarjevsky.
Assael successfully secured planning approval and listed building consent for an ambitious mixed-use scheme, combining a refurbished auditorium facility with a range of residential and commercial uses – partly accommodated within the existing structure and in part elevated above the auditorium in a dramatic bridging structure that over-sails the length of the auditorium.
The cinema was preserved with very little intervention whatsoever; only three columns penetrate the listed enclosure below. The use of steel, timber and opaque and transparent glass in the bridge-pavilion gives the impression that it is floating at a height in excess of six storey’s above the auditorium; a lightness of touch that maintains the integrity of the building’s character, while creating a landmark at the crest of St John’s Hill.
Four previous firms of achitects had been engaged and disengaged without solving the complexities of the site.
In 2007 residential developer, Henley Homes commenced implementation of the scheme having appointed Assael as lead consultant.
The largest challenge was to ensure that the acoustics for the development were satisfactory, without compromising activity within the auditorium during an event and ensuring that the apartments above were not affected.
Acoustic separation was fundamental and a double structure employed to give total separation for the two buildings.
In addition, careful analysis was made of any acoustic issues that were inherent to the site location, e.g. proximity to road traffic on St John’s Hill and rail traffic arising from Clapham Junction rail station.
Assael directed and led the preparation and production of a detailed acoustic strategy that identified targets for airborne sound insulation; explained relevant concepts (for example multiple flanking transmission paths through ground and slab at grade); identified useful precedents (drawing on previous experience of implementing acoustically isolated structures within the The British Library Sound Archive); and went on to set out a detailed strategy for each element of the four blocks into which the building was notionally sub-divided.
Measures that were adopted and subsequently implemented on site included ‘detaching’ built elements – sometimes by means of a saw-cut – sometimes by means of independent structures; encapsulating elements; floating elements upon resilient bearings; incorporating sound insulation and a rigorous application of flexible services connections.
A well integrated project team successfully developed a series of creative and practical solutions and response to some rather complex problems.
2012 AJ Retrofit Awards - Shortlisted for the Listed Buildings category
2008 British Home Awards - Commendation for Housing Project of the Year