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Royal Opera House Costume Store

Purfleet, Essex

Royal Opera House Costume Store Exterior

Sector: Cultural
Client: Interserve Construction Ltd
Project value: £4,000,000
Project stage: Complete

Gibberd were appointed as architects to Interserve Construction Ltd to provide detailed design and working drawings for the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre, the new Royal Opera House costume store facility at High House Production Park in Purfleet. Originally designed by Nicolas Hare Architects, the building is steel framed with cross laminated timber panels used for walls, partitions and floors, many of which are exposed as part of the finished building. The new facility provides a controlled environment dedicated for storage of costumes from opera and ballet productions, as well as the historic collection.

Most of the stock is held for specific productions and access is generally needed for the costumes for a production at the same time. A proportion of ‘dead stock’ is held from productions which will not be revived, to be available for use or adaption for new productions. The conditions within the store prevent condensation and consequent mould growth, through mechanical ventilation and temperature control, particularly to avoid excess cold.

The collection store is home to the more precious and historic items. These are stored in very closely controlled conditions. They leave the store to go on exhibition and incoming and outgoing costumes are suitably prepared in the collection room. There is also some space for exhibiting items within the collection room and in display cabinets in the adjacent circulation space.

In terms of environmental control within the collection store, the prime need is to maintain the relative humidity at a low enough level. This is achieved with ventilation and temperature control, rather than active dehumidification/humidification.

This joint venture between South Essex College and the Royal Opera House also provides costume, wig and shoe workshops and a number of support spaces alongside the college’s own vocational training workshops.

The two storey building is located on the north side of the central square of the High House Production Park, between the Royal Opera House Production Workshop to the west and the National Skills Academy to the east.