The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

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Summary

Sector
Heritage / restoration
Value
£28.7m
Location
Edinburgh
Status
Live
Customer
Capital Theatres
Completion
July 2023
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Restoring a cherished iconic Edinburgh theatre to its former glory

Work has begun on the intensive restoration of one of Edinburgh’s most significant cultural landmarks.

Managed by Capital Theatres, Scotland's largest independent theatre operators, the King's Theatre is a historic part of Scotland's theatre infrastructure. Now over 117 years old, this Grade A-listed theatre is in urgent need of repair and redevelopment.

Throughout the 109 week construction programme, the rigorous renovation will see the Edwardian theatre, affectionately known locally as 'the Old Lady of Leven Street', given a new lease of life while carefully preserving its heritage for future generations.

With meticulous care and sensitivity to this beautiful building, we will preserve and refresh the King's into a contemporary, vibrant, and significant theatrical destination in the heart of Edinburgh.

Once complete, the theatre will be a top destination for audiences across the UK and around the world, attracting renowned high quality touring companies, and restoring its reputation as a premier theatre.

Brand-new public facilities will allow a wide-ranging programme of community and educational activities to take place within the building, further embedding the theatre into the community and adding important social benefits to the lives of local people.

4,739m2

internal floor space

1906

year opened

Custodians of care throughout construction

The King's Theatre is a vital part of Edinburgh's history, and we are committed to delivering against the client brief, particularly to protecting that heritage throughout the refurbishment, so that while we modernise the facilities, the building's unique personality remains in place.

Our site team members have undergone bespoke training to enable them to prioritise and safeguard the unique characteristics of this incredibly important piece of social and architectural history.

This is to make sure that the history and heritage of the theatre, which has hosted stage icons such as, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Simon Callow, Ian McKellen, and Sean Connery, is preserved and protected.

Raising the curtain for the next generation

Audiences will enjoy a transformed front of house area which will become a warm and welcoming gathering place for visitors to the theatre. With a new feature window being created onto Tarvit Street, visitors approaching the King's Theatre will be able to see into, and out of, the venue on all floors.

Outside the theatre, a new canopy will open up views to the facade, and new signage will welcome audiences as they approach on regraded surrounding pavements to improve accessibility.

While the entrance foyer is to be refurbished, important historical elements such as the grand interior doors are to remain in place, protecting the character of the theatre.

And this is an approach that we are taking throughout the renovation – upgrading where needed but respecting and retaining the history of the theatre.

The main foyer stair will be retained as will the existing John Byrne mural on the ceiling of the auditorium – both of which are adored by the 200,000+ audience members who visit the theatre annually.

Significant alterations will take place to the theatre's circle and upper circle bars and there will also be a café extension and the creation of a new bar at stalls level.

Behind the curtain, there will be many improvements including the de-raking of the stage, which will make the theatre much more flexible for production companies looking to deliver the world class shows the King's Theatre has historically hosted, attracting audiences from around the globe.

The stage and technical equipment will be completely replaced. A new fly tower rigging system, safety curtain, and technical galleries will also all be installed.

Assuring the theatre's future

Among the improvements being made to the building is the installation of two lifts and broadening out of stairways to improve accessibility for all theatre visitors.

The Auditorium is to also be sensitively redeveloped, reinstating the back wall that was removed in a previously unsuccessful intervention, new control room, upgraded lighting system in the gantry, and a brand-new ventilation system, transforming the experience for theatregoers.

This important work will preserve the theatre, protecting its future and allowing generations of people to enjoy the beautiful building and impressive productions held within its historic walls.

The refurbishment will secure the King's Theatre's future as a vibrant, busy, and significant jewel in Edinburgh's crown for generations to come.

  • Visuals by Greig Penny Architecture Ltd