The Roundhouse is a London structure (located on Chalk Farm Road between the Camden Town and Chalk Farm stations on the Northern Line) that reflects the ups and downs of several generations. Despite the downs, the Roundhouse continues to reinvent itself as a relevant building with an architectural significance. Check out this building’s timeline of ups and downs:
Up: Built as a steam engine repair shed in 1846.
Down: Technology changed and locomotives became longer, making the Roundhouse redundant after eight years.
Up: Roundhouse was leased for 50 years as a warehouse for the fine Gibley’s Gin.
Down: The 50 year lease was not renewed
Up: A playwright named Arnold Wesker established Centre 42 in 1964 at the Roundhouse with the idea at its core that arts should be available for everyone. During the era of the 1960s and 70s the Roundhouse was cutting edge with controversial and artistic performances in theater and music. In fact it was the only venue in the UK that the Doors played and jump started the careers of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd.
Down: The venue was converted into more of a theatre in the round setting, cutting capacity by hundreds. Changes led to fewer musical performances and less revenue. The Roundhouse was again closed in 1983.
Up: The Norman trust purchased the building and established the Roundhouse Trust. The Norman Family made its money in the toy business and with a youthful focus, the intention was to redevelop the Roundhouse into a performance and creative center. The Roundhouse proves to be a great venue for small, sell-out shows and work with young people begins.
Up (again): The venue is closed for a 30 million GBP redevelopment project from 2004-2006. In 2006 the Roundhouse reopens with top notch technology, flexible seating, soundproofing, a raising of the roof, new lighting and sound systems, a state of the art creative center for 11-25 year olds, a restoring of original features and a new wing to house modern amenities.
...and Today (literally): Throughout this month of July, the iTunes Festival 2011 is happening in the Roundhouse with 31 days of music and over 60 artists. Every ticket is free, but you have to enter to win the tickets. If you don’t luck out with free tickets, you can choose to watch you favorite artist perform at this historic venue live via our modern technologies or watch past performances anytime.
This most current example of the Roundhouse’s intermingling of history, art, technology, and social media speaks to the nature of this epic building and its history of reinvention in the name of relevancy.