Croydon’s Fairfield Halls is to open its doors next weekend to give the public a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the refurbishment for the first time since its £30m transformation began.
Fans of the iconic and much-cherished Croydon theatre can join a public tour of the building which will take place at 10am on Saturday 16 September as part of the annual Open House London festival of architecture and design. It will be limited to 20 spaces allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The tour will be led by representatives from Rick Mather Architects – the practice responsible for the award-winning design – Croydon Council, and the development company set up by the council, Brick by Brick.
The council is also offering invite-only tours of the complex to 60 local stakeholders and community representatives, with a view to offering further opportunities as the development progresses. This will be the last opportunity to view the building before some major changes take place as the refurbishment, which started last summer, is now in the main phase with demolition works set to take place in the next few weeks. Between now and the end of 2017, works will include the demolition of the Arnhem Gallery to create a better, more flexible space, plus additional studio space on the top; the demolition of the NCP car park to make way for housing; and the reconfiguration of College Green to create a new public space. Contractor Vinci Construction UK arrived on site this summer and is preparing to take the venue through the next leg of its exciting journey to completion in 2018.
Tours are limited to 20 spaces because the site is currently undergoing refurbishment. Access to some parts of the building will be restricted and members of the public must be accompanied as part of the official tour. While the refurbishment is under way, under-18s are not permitted onsite. There is also currently no disabled access through the building and no car parking on site or in the Fairfield Halls car park.
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “I’m delighted that we are able to give the public and community representatives the opportunity to go behind the scenes as the refurbishment is at this exciting stage. Fairfield is not only an iconic Croydon building, it’s a much-loved theatre, and I know people will welcome the opportunity of a glimpse behind the scenes while the building is on its journey of transformation.” He added: “We know people are keen to see how the refurbishment is progressing and we very much hope to open up this opportunity to more people at a later stage in the development.”
Fairfield Halls is among more than a dozen of Croydon’s landmark buildings which will be revealing their inner secrets over the weekend of 16 and 17 September as part of Open House London 2017. The town’s rich architectural legacy, dating from the 13th century to the present day, will be showcased. Among the highlights of the weekend will be the opportunity for high tea in the tower and a tour of Saffron Square, Croydon’s iconic 45-storey tower clad in pinks and mauves to represent a crocus flower. With floor-to-ceiling glazing it offers a stunning view of Croydon’s skyline and beyond.
The opportunity to see Tudor housing dating from 1596, at Whitgift Almshouses, will provide an insight into a much earlier period of building design and style. Shirley Windmill, the last remaining windmill in Croydon, is also on the tour, and visitors will see the building and hear about its history. There is also the chance to explore the council’s own offices at Bernard Weatherill House. Glass-sided lifts will take guests up through the eight floors of the central atrium before rising the final four floors with panoramic external views across the town. Other Croydon buildings and sites include the borough’s urban pop-up saffron farm, Croydon Saffron Central, and the world’s oldest airport terminal and air traffic control tower at Airport House.
Access to the buildings and walks is free. Some are open on a first-come, first-served basis, but others require pre-booking. For more information visit Croydon’s page on the Open House website.