Our projects

Working behind the scenes at The Royal Albert Hall

After seamlessly upgrading the Hall's heating and cooling systems, we’re helping the world-class venue expand – through the basement.

The Hall had been struggling for some time with how to replace its Victorian steam heating without having to close temporarily. So they asked us for suggestions on doing this over a six-year period.

Instead, we came up with an approach that meant we could finish the work in just 18 months. All without closing the venue, or disturbing audiences or artists.

Since then, as well as upgrading the Hall’s cooling system, we’ve been expanding the world-famous venue: extending the current basement and creating another level underneath the South West car park.

In the meantime, we’ve uncovered extra floorspace, thanks to creative approaches from our construction team.

Summary

    • Client: Royal Albert Hall
    • Sector: Leisure
    • Location: London
    • Services: Pre-Construction, Construction Support, Special Projects

Sir Robert McAlpine & Realtime Civil Engineering - Royal Albert Hall Construction

  1. Royal Albert Hall heating system upgrades

    Letting off steam

    Converting the Victorian steam heating into an efficient low temperature hot water (LTHW) system required careful planning.

    We started off by installing a high-level temporary heating ring around the Circle.

    Then we gradually replaced the basement’s steam heating with feeds from Circle level.

    Once complete, we replaced the basement’s main ring with a new permanent LTHW ring.

  2. View over concert hall at Royal Albert Hall

    Space-saving lifts

    Originally the expansion project involved building a new service lift within the new areas. But to save time and precious floor space, we proposed extending the shaft downwards on the existing service lift.

    We also preserved basement space by creating an alternative shuttle lift. Our teams spotted a void beneath the hall, which had been filled during the original construction. By excavating this, we were able to provide a new lift and circulation space.

  3. Royal Albert Hall Basement Extenstion

    Digging deeper

    To provide access into the new basement levels, we had to create a series of wide structural openings in the Hall’s walls. But cutting through the listed building’s 1.4m walls posed problems. The huge load of the building above and the fact we had no access from the outside meant forming these openings was challenging.

    We developed a structural underpinning solution which created the openings without risk to the structure. This delivered a permanent solution with little or no temporary works.

The Hall managed to operate completely as normal and we succeeded in doing in 18 months what they were going to do six months at a time for six years. We gave the Hall exactly what we told them we’d give them.

Ben Wilkinson, Project Manager
  • Special Projects

    Our Special Projects team is dedicated to providing complex heritage restoration schemes with the technical excellence and expertise they deserve.

    Find out more