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Curtain set to rise on theatre upgrade

Hackney, East London

HOPES are high that work will start early next year on a 30 million refurbishment of the Hackney Empire theatre in east London.

The theatre already has pledges of cash from Hackney council, and is now looking for lottery money and European cash to allow the scheme to go forward.

Plans include a total refurbishment, a 200-seat studio theatre, rehearsal rooms, workshops and a rooftop cafe. Completion is scheduled for 2001.

Ronalds Farjadi is the schemes architect after winning a competition. According to the judges, one of the main reasons for selecting the practice was that it came up with the best method of tackling the problem of minimal closure of the theatre during building works by using fast-track construction techniques.

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