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A fresh opening for Live Theatre

Live Theatre reopened on Thursday 2 September and returning audiences are benefiting from a capital investment programme which has delivered significant improvements to the quayside venue’s ventilation and heating system. The works, part of Live Theatre Fit for 50 initiative to decarbonise the theatre, were supported using public funding by Arts Council England and grants from The Foyle Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation and Theatres Trust and designed by Link MEP, specialist mechanical, electrical and public health consulting engineers. The works were carried out by H Malone and Sons, North East based mechanical services contractor.

The new ventilation system design removed the recirculation section of the previous system and has replaced the arrangement with a full fresh air and extract system of mechanical ventilation. The upgrade was very timely as it provides the building with an increased volume of fresh air, minimising the risk of the transference of the Covid 19 virus.

The venue’s energy consumption and carbon emissions have also been addressed and will be reduced, thanks to the installation of heat recovery devices that maximise the heat recovery potential of the reconfigured ventilation system.

Link MEP designed a new arrangement for the heating and ventilation system that appreciates Live Theatre’s acoustic criteria and the heritage listed nature of the building. The fresh air is supplied to the auditorium within the seating area and provides tempered fresh air at low level and velocity from diffusers located below the seats. A positive outcome for audience members is that they will no longer experience cold draughts or overheating in the main theatre. Audiences can sit back and enjoy the show in comfort and experience much better air quality too.

George Gifford, of Link MEP said: “It has been a privilege to work on this project and help Live Theatre achieve their sustainability outcomes. We are delighted that returning and new audiences will feel the benefit of better air quality, enhanced comfort and improved acoustic performances within the auditorium.

Jacqui Kell, Live Theatre Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive commented: “We are pleased that we have been able to use some of the time of our closure to make some of these important upgrades to our beautiful Grade II Listed Building. The safety and wellbeing of our audiences and visitors is at the forefront of our plans as we get back to Live. The work around reducing the risk of Covid-19 by increasing the circulation of fresh air inside our theatre is significant and we hope that along with our safety protocols, customers will feel confident that they will have a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience at Live Theatre.”

Daniel Turnbull from contractor H Malone and Sons said: “It has been a pleasure delivering this project successfully on time, alongside a driven Client and Construction Team”.

The capital works at Live Theatre also include improvements to access around the building and enhanced visibility with new exterior signage to be installed in Autumn 2021.

  • Arts Council England
  • Community Foundation
  • European Regional Development Fund


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