Technical Study: Alexandra Palace Theatre, London


Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios’ restoration applies the principle of arrested decay with technical ingenuity and visual conviction

Few of London’s surviving historic monuments have been unluckier than Alexandra Palace. Just two weeks after opening in May 1873, the showpiece public recreation, entertainment and exhibition centre in north London was destroyed by fire that left only its outer walls remaining. In an incredible display of Victorian resilience, it was entirely rebuilt within just two years, reopening as the “People’s Palace” or its more colloquial moniker that endures to this day, “Ally Pally”.

While subsequent decades saw the grade II-listed palace make history by hosting the world’s first regular high-definition television broadcast in 1935, tragedy struck again in 1980 when a second fire destroyed much of the complex, sparing once again its outer walls and in this instance the eastern wing of the building too. Although successive repairs and restoration have been going on ever since and are still planned for the future, almost 40 years later large sections of the palace remain in a derelict state.

This is premium content. 

Only logged in subscribers have access to it.

Login or SUBSCRIBE to view this story

Gated access promo

Existing subscriber? LOGIN

A subscription to Building Design will provide:

  • Unlimited architecture news from around the UK
  • Reviews of the latest buildings from all corners of the world
  • Full access to all our online archives
  • PLUS you will receive a digital copy of WA100 worth over £45.

Subscribe now for unlimited access.

Alternatively REGISTER for free access on selected stories and sign up for email alerts