Edinburgh Festival Theatre

As an opera house, variety palace, concert hall, drama theatre or dance house the Edinburgh Festival Theatre is set to become a beloved icon.

Colt installed a smoke control system that met the regulatory requirements for fire protection, as well as meeting the demanding acoustic requirements.

The restoration and re-building of the theatre was designed by architects Law & Dunbar Nasmith, Edinburgh and completed by management contractor Bovis (Scotland) Limited. British Standard 5588 Pt 6 1991 (“Fire Precautions in the design, construction and use of buildings”) states that such places of assembly require fire / smoke ventilation to the stage area.

This resulted in a requirement to provide ventilation in the fly tower area. Colt was employed to install a smoke control system with fire / smoke ventilation that met the regulatory requirements, as well as the demanding acoustic requirements set down in the brief supplied by the acousticians Sandy Brown Associates, Edinburgh.

The 1900 seat auditorium has been completely restored to its original condition and the performance area has now been increased, making it the largest stage area in Britain. The front of house has also been rebuilt and has a frontage entirely of glass.

Since 1830 the Nicolson Street location has been the longest continuous theatre site in Edinburgh. In 1892, the doors of the Empire Palace Theatre opened, built by the great British theatre architect Frank Matcham, seating 3000 theatregoers on four levels.

In May 1911, a disastrous fire occurred, when during an act a stage drape was ignited with a lighted torch. Within seconds the whole stage was ablaze. The safety curtain descended and the audience walked to safety, although eight people including the illusionist Lafayette perished on stage. The stage was re built in 3 months and the stars returned. By 1927 the Empire was equipping itself for bigger shows. Between 1963 and 1991 the Empire was used as a Bingo Hall, its wonderful acoustics resounding with the calling of numbers, but the memory and potential of the Empire remained.

Colt met the stringent noise specifications by supplying insulated Colt Meteor ventilators, thus ensuring that noise ingress to the auditorium is minimised. Eighteen attenuated Colt Meteor ventilators have been installed in the fly tower and are monitored by an automatic control system. In the event of a fire on stage the ventilators will automatically open and the fire curtain will drop down, allowing the audience to leave safely.

  • Project:
    • Edinburgh Festival Theatre
  • Location:
    • Edinburgh
  • Requirements:
    • Smoke control system with stringent noise specifications
  • Architect:
    • Law & Dunbar Nasmith
  • Main Contractor:
    • Bovis (Scotland) Limited
  • Acoustics specialists:
    • Sandy Brown Associates
  • Colt products:
    • Meteor ventilators