LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art)
Niall McLaughlin Architects
- Original design
- John Salmon Quilter, 1894
- Niall McLaughlin Architects, 2003
- Niall McLaughlin Architects, 2017
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
A world leader and pioneer, LAMDA is the UK’s oldest drama school. Established over 150 years ago, LAMDA is a major contributor to the cultural wealth of the nation – informing and influencing the performing arts sector as a whole.
Recruiting on talent alone, LAMDA aims to discover and train the most promising acting, directing, stage management and technical students – regardless of social or economic background. One in five LAMDA students currently receive support through LAMDA’s scholarships, bursaries and student hardship funds, which help to ensure that finances are not a barrier to the best training.
LAMDA’s alumni include established artists such as Jim Broadbent, Dame Janet Suzman and David Suchet CBE; the new generation of British award-winners including Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Luke Treadaway; as well as industry leaders such as Sir Howard Panter. You can see the results of LAMDA’s training at the National Theatre and RSC, in the West End and on Broadway, as well as on the BBC, HBO and in Hollywood.
LAMDA is the largest statutory speech and drama awarding body in the UK. Kim Cattrall, Neil Gaiman, Imelda Staunton and many more began their lifelong appreciation of creativity and the spoken word with LAMDA’s examinations.
LAMDA has been based in West London since its foundation in 1861. Formerly housed in Earl’s Court, at Tower House and the neighboring MacOwan Theatre, by the 21st century LAMDA was in desperate need of increased space and new facilities. In 2003 we moved to 155 Talgarth Road as the first stage in a plan to house all of LAMDA’s facilities on one, integrated campus.
155 Talgarth Road has a long history as an educational institution. The central Victorian building was first commissioned by the Froebel Society in the late 19th century as an institute for training primary school teachers.
Designed by John Salmon Quilter, a specialist in school architecture, it is considered one of his finest works. Salmon Quilter also designed a number of houses and shops in South London, where he was District Surveyor for East Streatham and Tulse Hill.
The central building was completed in 1894 and officially opened by Empress Frederick, Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, the following year. Later in the 1890s, the Froebel Institute expanded to the east of the main Victorian building to provide a home for the Colet Gardens Fee Paying School.
In 1922, however, the Froebel Institute moved to its current location at Grove House in Roehampton Lane. After an evacuation to Little Gaddesdon during World War II, the Colet Gardens School followed suit and moved to premises in Roehampton.
From 1947, Talgarth Road was home to the Royal Ballet School. With the whole school housed on the same site, it could combine dance and general education under one roof. During the 1950s and 60s, 155 Talgarth Road was extended into its current form. Buildings providing additional rehearsal studios and office space were added to the east and a new theatre and classrooms were built to the west of the site.
When the Royal Ballet School moved to new, purpose-built premises in Covent Garden in 2003, LAMDA took over 155 Talgarth Road. Initial refurbishment work and customisation of interior spaces was undertaken by Niall McLaughlin Architects and The LAMDA Linbury Studio – a black box studio theatre – opened in 2004, providing LAMDA with a much needed second public performance space.
With significant support from funders, LAMDA next purchased the remaining portion of land at the west end of the Talgarth Road site. This last step enabled us to embark a major redevelopment of LAMDA’s campus to establish world-class facilities for LAMDA’s students, faculty and the wider community.
Working with Niall McLaughlin Architects once again, LAMDA’s vision was to create a campus that would house LAMDA’s aspirations, inspire LAMDA’s audiences, attract the most talented staff and students, and consolidate LAMDA’s position as a world-leading awarding body and provider of speech and drama training.
Multi award-winning Niall McLaughlin Architects are renowned for an innovative and creative approach to education and cultural builds. Their practical, cost-efficient and accessible plan makes best use of the long, thin LAMDA site.
LAMDA’s design pays careful consideration to the aesthetics of the new building within the context of the surrounding locality. 155 Talgarth Road sits at the edge of the Barons Court Conservation Area. Neighbouring LAMDA’s site to the east is Colet House, which now houses the Study Society (also part of Open House 2018) and beyond this the Grade II listed St Paul’s Studios.
Heading west along Talgarth Road, the three storey Victorian residential buildings lining the road between West Kensington and Barons Courts stations give way to the much larger scale structures bordering the flyover, including the West London Magistrates’ Court and the striking form of the Ark. LAMDA’s site can therefore be thought of as a transition point between these two different patterns of development. In creating their plans, Niall McLaughlin Architects have sought to make the building more welcoming to the public, whilst still relating structural additions to the existing buildings of merit which surround it.
In May 2017 we officially opened the new West Wing of LAMDA’s 155 Talgarth Road home. The new addition is home to two state of the art theatres, The Sainsbury Theatre, a 220 seat auditorium and The Carne Studio Theatre, a 120 seat black box studio. Alongside these two new theatres we have been able to create a welcoming foyer space for LAMDA’s
audience and students to utilise.
The development of two new theatres was only a part of the West Wing development that includes 10 teaching studios, 5 meeting rooms, a brand new stateof- the-art TV and Audio suite and backstage facilities that support the incredible work of LAMDA’s students.
Since its official opening LAMDA has won two awards, both of which have been donated by Niall McLaughlin Architects for LAMDA to display. The New London Architecture Award was won for the Education Category and the Schueco Award was an Overall Commendation and Cultural Building Award.
LAMDA Limited Registered in England No: 364456. Registered Office: as address. Registered Charity No: 312821.
All images © LAMDA Limited. CGIs created by Picture Plane , Niall McLaughlin Architects and Richard Hubert-Smith.