Albert Fry Associates provided Civil, Structural and Conservation Engineering consultancy services on the Grand Opera House refurbishment project.
Conservation works and interventions to the original theatre building included inspections, investigation and detailed survey of the building and its previous remediation and repairs.
Inspections included that of the timber-trussed roof, constructed in 1895, which was surveyed element by element (both physically and by 3D laser scan) to allow modelling of the structure and assessment of its condition and capacity. The timber trusses and cast-iron columns, including columns embedded within the famous elephant heads, were assessed.
The historic decorative ceiling within the auditorium being of fibrous plaster construction, suspended from the timber roof structure by means of hessian and plaster ‘wads’, warranted a comprehensive survey and assessment as such ceilings are recognized as being at risk if left neglected.
Alterations to the modern front-of-house building included construction of a helical, central-stairway linking the foyer to new hospitality suites and the heritage exhibitions on the upper floors.
Enhanced access to the auditorium required the removal of the lower level of a full height reinforced concrete column. This was achieved by means of a robust steelwork transfer structure bearing onto steel mini-piles installed using a low-headroom piling rig. The transfer structure was efficiently concealed within a new decorative entrance portal.
The modern fly-structure over the ceiling required installation of a more automated scenery-handling system, with travelling hoists. This required survey and modelling of the existing grillage of roof trusses to ascertain the structure’s capacity to support the new arrangement.
The refurbishment and enhancement of the Opera House were successfully implemented by the open collaborative working approach embraced by the Opera House management, the contractor and the design team.
Belfast City Centre
Grand Opera House