A brand new performance space is going to light up East London soon. The 3000-capacity arena will serve as the home for ABBA’s virtual concert ‘ABBA VOYAGE’. The building is set to become a new cultural destination to the city, situated close to Pudding Mill Lane DLR station.
The steel and timber building has been conceived as a mysterious, intriguing structure that demands attention, whilst creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors to enjoy their experience. Designed from the inside out, the 25.5 meter high hexagonal form of the arena is designed as per the requirements of the show, the staging and the desired seating geometry. The largest of its kind, the structure has been designed as a demountable temporary venue, which can be relocated to another site at the end of its five-year tenure in East London.
At the heart of the arena, the auditorium holds high tech capabilities and offers a unique immersive entertainment experience, designed to fit 1650 seats and space for a standing audience of 1350. The structure of the temporary venue that sits on concrete pads is created with an internal clear span of 70m to allow for a large 360° immersive production. It has been optimized to be as light as possible to minimize the load on foundations.
The design of the roof is a direct response to the large structural span of the auditorium and a desire to compliment the venue’s mysterious appearance.
The arena, aptly called as an engineering feat, is unified beneath a semi-axisymmetric steel dome weighing in at 744 tons, which during construction was built on the ground and then lifted 25.5 meter into the air by 18 strand jacks to its final position. The roof and wall cladding have been designed to meet the acoustic performance of the venue and to limit the effects of noise on surrounding residential areas.
To contrast with the spectacle of the high tech show inside, the external structure that braces the steel dome roof and auditorium has been clad with a porous screen of sustainable timber battens. The large ABBA logo is integrated onto two facades with LED light strips following the timber.
Outside the auditorium an extended concourse area has been used to serve visitors when they arrive and be sheltered from the elements by a large timber canopy built by Stage One.
Like the superstructure, the canopy is a modular system that can be removed in sections and be reconfigured to meet the needs of a new site once it is relocated. Timber modules follow the hexagonal shape of the venue to accommodate food and beverage options, retail, toilets, and a guest lounge.
Pudding Mill Lane was selected as the perfect area for the revolutionary new venue, because of its closeness to local social centers, Olympic Park and adjoining Hackney and Stratford. The site was vacant lot and occasionally used for temporary event parking. As part of its sustainable environmental agenda, its proximity to public transport links made Pudding Mill a desirable choice and once opened, Crossrail will allow even more options for visitors to reach the venue by public transport.