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Royal Opera House London

Case info

Project category
Restaurants
Location
Covent Garden, Bow Street London WC2E 9DD Great Britain
Photographers
John Sanders Luke Hayes Hufton+Crow
Products
CH20

The Royal Opera House in London has been through a vast transformation, called The Open Up Project. As a result, all restaurants now welcome everyone - even out of theatre hours.

Project category
Restaurants
Location
Covent Garden, Bow Street London WC2E 9DD Great Britain
Photographers
John Sanders Luke Hayes Hufton+Crow
Products
CH20

The Open Up Project is both the name of the transformation of London’s Royal Opera House and the point of departure for the Dutch interior design company Studio Linse, who is behind the décor at several of the restaurants and bars at this historic institution for ballet and opera. In the 1720s, the very first theatre on the site, since then burned down, presented the first performances of compositions by Händel. 

The extensive reconstruction, managed by Stanton Williams Architects and completed in 2018, includes two new entrances, an expansion of the lobby and the building of The Linbury Theatre. The purpose of the refurbishment of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden was to attract a new audience not formerly familiar with the institution.

 

The architects solved this task by opening up the house to create a more welcoming architecture and interior. Furthermore, the Royal Opera House and its restaurants and bars are now open for all throughout the day. 

While Restaurant Level 5 and the Royal Opera House Café situated in the foyer are new additions, designed in completely transformed parts of the building, the historic interior of the Paul Hamlyn Hall has been preserved. To create visual and thematic coherence throughout the spaces and eras, Studio Linse chose one chair to recur at all three restaurants: The CH20, designed by Hans J. Wegner in 1956 and introduced by Carl Hansen & Søn in 2005. 

 

The Open Up Project was conceptualized and interpreted both directly and indirectly by Studio Linse. Previously taken up partly by offices, the fifth floor now holds the Restaurant Level 5. As all partitions were removed to create a lighter atmosphere, the restaurant serves 240 guests in one large space featuring a terrace with views of Covent Garden. 

Though a difficult task, Studio Linse has succeeded in creating a stylish and elegant restaurant where the soft nuances of the textiles, carpets and furniture are staged by spotlights and indirect lighting. With its organically shaped backrest and seat, the CH20 by Hans J. Wegner form the sculptural elements of the restaurant. 

The light oak frame and the naturally colored leather seat blend in perfectly with the rest of the décor. 

As part of the more subtle interpretation of the theme behind the Open Up Project, guests now have several possibilities of getting a glimpse behind the curtain. For example, a window on the terrace near Restaurant Level 5 allows you to see into the costume workshop that creates all garments, just as large display cases in the restaurant itself exhibits costumes and other artifacts created for performances and shows in the house. 

 

Barbara de Vries of Studio Linse about the choice of Carl Hansen & Søn furniture:

“A cultural institution like the Royal Opera House demands certain things in terms of décor and furniture and we were looking for that one special chair. The CH20 by Hans J. Wegner is iconic and has stood the test of time. That it is stackable is of course an added bonus"

“Good design is not only about the form, it’s about making people feel comfortable and inspired.” Barbara de Vries, Studio Linse.

One of the original institutions at the Royal Opera House, the Paul Hamlyn Hall is still placed in the iconic cast iron and glass construction from the early 1900s that leads out to Bow Street. With their gentle treatment of the space, Studio Linse chose only to change the furniture and replace it with custom-made oak tables and Hans J. Wegner’s CH20, also in oak. Chameleon-like, the chair blends in naturally in spaces both historic and hypermodern and at the Paul Hamlyn Hall, the organic lines of the chair represents a natural add-on to the imposing barrel vaults and the soft arches of the architecture.

Expanded by 50 pct. and literally carved out of the existing building, the new, multifunctional lobby, which includes the Royal Opera House Café, is spacious, elegant and welcoming. Refectory tables in walnut are the natural focal point of the foyer and here, in stained oak and with naturally colored leather seats, you also find the CH20 by Hans J. Wegner. Spanning almost the entire length of the lobby, the bar opens at 10:00 AM and serves everyone who wants a cup of coffee, a sandwich or to enjoy the beautiful space and décor. As such, the very essence of the Open Up Project is the very first thing that greets guests that arrive at the newly transformed Royal Opera House.

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When you choose a Carl Hansen & Søn product, you gain more than just a piece of furniture. You become part of a proud tradition of distinctive and beautiful craftsmanship, where nothing has been left to chance. The world’s largest manufacturer of furniture designed by Hans J. Wegner, we also produce works by renowned design masters such as Arne Jacobsen, Børge Mogensen, Ole Wanscher, Kaare Klint, Poul Kjærholm, Mogens Koch, Bodil Kjær and Tadao Ando. Carl Hansen & Søn represents over 100 years of Danish design history and our furniture is sold all over the world.  

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