SINGAPORE - When the doors to the refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall open tonight for a by-invite-only concert presented by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), the audience will be ushered into a grand atrium with a soaring glass roof befitting the status of the iconic venue.
Once inside, members of the audience will sink into plush, roomier seats with much improved legroom between each row and enjoy state- of-the-art acoustics and better views of the stage.
But to the layman, the most striking feature of the $158-million refurbishment is the creation of the atrium which connects the theatre and concert hall seamlessly.
W Architects referred to old images from the archives to restore a 1905 passageway between the two buildings and turned it into a public space, just the way it used to be in the past. They have added new side and back walls in precast concrete panels.
Each of these bears detailed architectural mouldings and pattern features which have been drawn from archived drawings of the building.
The original marble floor has been polished to such a glossy finish that those with high heels might do well to watch their step.
In a nod to the past, the architects have used 3cm-thick timber seat- backings from the old seats and mounted them on the walls of the foyer, creating a striking installation art piece.
Inside, the venues offer intimacy and old-world charm and fill the gap for medium-sized performance art venues here.
The wider legroom, ranging from 425mm to 510mm in the spacing between rows, means the seating capacity for the theatre and concert hall has been reduced. The theatre now has 614 seats compared to 900 and the concert hall has had its seating capacity reduced from 883 to 673 seats.
The chairs, made of steel and timber with foam cushion, are from Japan.