Nica Burns, Nimax Theatres


When London’s Crossrail project necessitated the demolition of the Astoria Theatre in 2018, developer Derwent quickly chose a theater partner – Nica Burns of Nimax Theatres.



She jumped at the chance to create a unique theater offering different creative possibilities to the traditional proscenium arch theaters. It is the first new theater in the West End for half a century.

We brought previous theater-design expertise to @sohoplace, delivering a scheme that transforms the space from in-the-round to thrust configurations using removable balcony modules and overhead lifting equipment. In addition to the reconfigurable infrastructure and associated cranes, we also designed an adaptable flying system with flybars, moveable point-hoists, and traveling bridges. Reconfiguration of the space is aided by the stage lift with a capacity of over 4 tonnes.

Every element is engineered to serve multiple functions; the traveling bridges, which support lighting fixtures, also serve as a mounting point for the chain hoists used for balcony rigging and provide a section of track for the gantry crane.

Civil Engineers – Arup

Theatre Consultants – Charcoalblue
Auditorium Architect – Haworth Tompkins
Principal Contractor – Laing O’Rourke
Owner – Derwent London
End Client / Building Tenant – Nica Burns, Nimax Theatres

Top image provided by Fred Howarth/Haworth Tompkins
Right image provided by Philip Vile/Haworth Tompkins


The over-stage flying system uses BT2 winches in a densely packed array. Several also facilitate reconfigurable point hoists.

The control system uses the custom panel features of iQ to provide a clear overview of the many safety interlocks. When it comes to the shows themselves, the theater’s automation team have all the features of the epiQ console at their fingertips for efficient show-programming, operation, and integration with other technical departments, ensuring that @sohoplace is ready to host shows with the most modern requirements.

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