- Location: Peninsula Square, London, UK
Architect: Richard Rogers
Inauguration: July 2012
The O2 is one of the UK’s most iconic venues, located under the unmistakable canopy of London’s former Millennium Dome. It is also one of the largest, capable of holding up to 20,000 people for major international events. Audience Systems has been working with The O2 and its operator AEG since 2007, when over 3,000 removable “Matrix” seats were purchased for the arena floor. Then in 2012, Audience Systems supplied the arena with 16 retractable mobile seating structures with luxury folding seats.
In 2015, Audience Systems undertook a major project to design, manufacture and supply structures and seating for the north end of the arena. “We had a number of key objectives associated with the procurement of the new system,” explains Steve Gotkine, operations director at The O2. “We were looking to increase the number of seats and improve the speed and efficiency of the system. “Audience Systems’ design increased the potential capacity by 200 seats and, as operations have demonstrated, reduced the time and crew required to set up the system by 60%.
So how was this achieved? For the lower levels, Audience Systems supplied two different sets of structure: standard retractable platforms for when floor space is a priority, but also low-rise retractable units that allow more rows of chairs to be created when seating is in high demand. For the upper rows, something even more customised was created. “We wanted the top section (5 rows) to be able to remain in their place for stand-up shows and make the space underneath usable,” says Steve Gotkine. “This meant a big increase in the amount of seating in this format, but no impact on the available standing floor.” The resulting elevated structure created by Audience Systems is a first for UK stages.
Audience Systems also supplied 1187 luxurious Espace 628CC seats to complete these structures. Their thickly padded seats and high backs will contribute to the fantastic visual experience that the O2 aims to deliver to its patrons. Steve Gotkine reports a very positive experience of working with Audience Systems. “The team is always available and happy to work with the client. We threw in some last-minute curve balls that we managed to include without delay in the agreed installation period of the project.” Did the seats themselves live up to expectations? “Yes, especially the upper section, which was designed from scratch for our specific requirements. I would recommend Audience Systems to other venues”.
Audience Systems is now ready to undertake a similar but even more ambitious project to replace the seating at the south end of the arena. We look forward to continuing our relationship with this innovative arena.