Whilst some may consider choosing colours as ‘the fun part’ of any project, on a site with such a long and varied history, it is in fact quite complex.
One of the first colour decisions we were faced with was with regards to the choice of fabric for the new theatre seats. We knew that we would need to do a lot of research first – this included undertaking site visits to other venues, taking advice and guidance from our specialist designers at Charcoalblue and our architects at FCBS, garnering opinion from staff, stakeholders and clients, attending numerous meetings to review fabrics and colourways, as well as some on-site workshops involving team members standing on the birdcage scaffold viewing large samples of fabric draped over chairs on the balcony!
Theatre colour palette (Keith Armstrong)
The other and potentially more complex set of decisions was around paint choice. Whilst the colours in the Theatre will not change (the scope of works are to brush down the walls, make repairs where necessary and then seal the surfaces with a clear solution), the East Court will be getting quite the makeover.
In summer 2017, we obtained the services of well-regarded historic paintwork specialist, Patrick Baty, to undertake some sampling work in the East Court and other parts of the Palace building, to establish the various schemes that preceded the abundance of blue which can now be seen across the site.
His findings were very interesting – in some areas, there have been over 15 different colour schemes. It is believed that one of the first colour schemes included a shade of lavender, like the one in the test sample image below.
Testing paint colours, including one of the original colours – lavender
We are now using the findings to help inform the colour brief for the revitalised East Court. The colours chosen will need to be appealing and relevant to today’s audiences, whilst complementing the heritage and historic setting of the space and reflecting the spirit of the Victorian era. The scheme will need to emphasise the architectural features and details (roof trusses, capitals etc.), whilst creating the sense of a single space, avoiding being overly distracting, creating a space that is comfortable, relaxing and attractive. And of course, the colours should be durable, affordable, commercially available and cost-effective, and ultimately create a clear identity for the Palace for now and for the future.
If you would like to support the East Wing restoration project (you can donate £25 for your name on the East Court donor board, or you could sponsor a seat in the Theatre) please click here
Alexandra Palace is run by a charity for the benefit of everyone. It’s loved by many people: as a historic landmark, ice rink, legendary gig venue, exhibition centre, theatre, park with panoramic views and more. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic our income has fallen catastrophically and our survival is at risk. Your support can help: as a charity, every £1 we receive is reinvested back into the organisation and will help us get back on our feet.