Designers Align have worked with Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons on Omeara, a new 350-capacity live music venue, bar and performance space in Flat Iron Square in London’s Borough, which has now opened its doors to the public.
Omeara is being run by operating company Omeara London, together with an independent record and live promotions label Communion, both of which are owned and managed by musician Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, who has personally overseen the project.
The new 9,000 sq ft venue, featuring a music venue, a separate live performance area, four bars, a green room, two artist dressing rooms and a roof garden, is part of a new, larger development called The Low Line, comprised of a pedestrian walkway, lined with common spaces and local businesses, based within and alongside redeveloped railway arches that link Waterloo to London Bridge.
Nigel Tresise of align comments: “What’s particularly great about this project is that the interconnected arches create opportunities for drama and zoning whilst still functioning as an overall venue. Not only are all public areas fully accessible, but full thought and care has been given to the whole suite of facilities, from the new-build courtyard block at the front, where the box office, toilets, merchandising closet and roof garden are located, to the mezzanine ‘green room’ artists’ area.”
Omeara now encompasses three arches within The Low Line, including a new-build, 80 sqm courtyard extension with roof garden, located at the Omeara Street entrance to the site. All three arched spaces are then linked via internal connecting doors, located halfway along each inner wall, with the outer two arches also featuring their own dedicated entrance on the arched, Low Line side of the site. In principle, the first arch – The Siding – will be used as a separate space, for events, exhibitions and pop-ups.
The central arch houses the main, 350-capacity live music venue, with the stage at the north end of the space and raised, terraced viewing platforms to the side and rear for disabled customers, as well as a lift to the upper bar and roof terrace level and small dedicated bar to the rear of the space. The final arch houses the main bar on both the ground floor and mezzanine levels.
The main entrance for customers is on Omeara Street, where the new-build courtyard block houses the box office, cloakroom, merchandising closet and toilet block, which further extends a former signal box. A stair to the right of the entrance leads up to the roof terrace on the upper level, as well as through to the upper level of the bar, with the mezzanine level of the bar also served by a separate stair leading directly from the ground floor.
Architecturally, aluminium-framed glazing was already placed, closing off the end of the arches facing The Low Line, but doors had to be moved around and additional fire exits added, once planning approval was achieved. New internal structural steelwork was inserted to support all the new interventions, from galleries and mezzanines to the new stage system.
The greatest design challenge of the project, however, lay in the creation of an effective acoustic lining system, in order to isolate the venue from the low-frequency noise and vibrations from the busy railway viaduct track directly above.
Overall, the interior treatment, curated by Studio Juice and legendary set designer Dick Bird, evokes a once-glorious past, with a fairly beaten-up aesthetic, including reclaimed elements such as decorative panels made up of wrought-iron table legs. Flooring is appropriate to each zone, with a range of treatments from concrete and timber to Marmoleum and ceramic tiling.