In April 2015, the Lyric Hammersmith opened its new Reuben Foundation Wing, an extension to the existing west London theatre which houses rehearsal and studio spaces, a cinema, workshops, recording studio, music practice rooms, offices and teaching spaces. The opening celebrated the culmination of a major redevelopment which included the first major facelift for the existing building in thirty years and the creation of a new extension doubling the size of the building.
The £20 million project began onsite in 2012. It was funded by Arts Council England, the Department for Education, London Development Agency, North Fulham New Deal for Communities and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
The purpose of the redeveloped building was to enable the Lyric to expand its programme of activity with young people and emerging and professional artists. Building on its long-standing environmental commitment and working with Rick Mather Architects, a further aim was to create a leading sustainable cultural building and to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating for the existing refurbishment and the new building (they are awaiting results of the final BREEAM assessment).
Understanding the Building
At the start of the project, the Lyric already had a solid understanding of the existing building’s environmental impacts and carbon footprint. The targets set for the new build were in line with the Mayor of London's interim target to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2015 (the longer term target is 60 per cent by 2025) and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham's target of generating 10 per cent of energy needs from on-site renewable sources. In addition, under building regulations, the theatre was obliged to devote 10 per cent of the refurbishment costs to consequential improvements in the building’s energy performance.
In the early stages of the design, a Sustainability Consultant was commissioned to produce an Energy Strategy Report. This report considered options for low and zero carbon technologies including solar thermal and photo-voltaic panels, ground and air source heat pumps and a combined heat and power plant as well as financial impacts.
The redevelopment uses passive cooling i.e. natural ventilation, wherever possible. Mechanical air-cooling will only be used where absolutely necessary. Air source heat pumps, a renewable source of energy, is expected to provide a 25 per cent reduction in carbon emissions and a 12 per cent reduction in energy usage. The oil-fired heating system was replaced by a high efficiency gas boiler. An insulated render system and double glazed windows were installed to improve the thermal performance of the building. Natural light is used where possible. LED lighting and energy efficient lighting controls were also introduced. Low water usage sanitary systems were installed and the theatre has a green roof with a biodiverse selection of plants. Solar photovoltaic panels will generate electricity when installed (the theatre is awaiting the necessary permissions). Recycled and reclaimed materials were used where possible for fixtures and fittings, for example the office desks are made from scaffolding boards.
The Lyric's Green Team is made up of a cross section of the organisation, all of whom are passionate about reducing the Lyric’s carbon emissions and making the organisation more sustainable. The team has been developing and implementing a range of environmental initiatives since 2010. This will stand the theatre in good stead to ensure that in use its building makes a positive contribution to environmental sustainability. The Lyric is the first arts venue to achieve a 3 Star rating under the Industry Green certification scheme, and it has achieved this over the last three years.