It's not often we have time on our side. So many of our projects see us brought in at the 11th hour to perform some sort of last ditch rescue mission that this is how we're used to working – quickly, efficiently and under immense pressure.
So it's certainly worthwhile focussing on one of our current jobs which couldn't be more different – one which has been in the works for the last four years and which has seen us act first as theatre consultants and then as designers and installers of the technical equipment required by the English National Ballet at their new home on London City Island.
This project has really broken new ground for us here at Unusual What you'd normally see is a third party consultant employed in the same way as you'd employ a structural engineer. The standard process would see the theatre consultant produce a design intent – a dream theatre if you like. However what's proposed in that design intent isn't always easy to realise in the particular building they're planning for – and unlike an architect,  a theatre consultant doesn't have a liability to make sure their designs actually work.
Unusual was employed first and foremost to consult on this project. The technical fit-out was then tendered and we were awarded that tender by BW Workplace Experts. Some might argue that independent advice is more likely to result in best value installation. But the biggest advantage for everyone involved here is that, by being involved from day one, we have been able to work closely with the constructors, Ballymore on every aspect of the building – from where to put all the steel in the roof for the flying system, to where to place the big beams for the galleries etc.
This has been invaluable in ensuring the project has kept to time and to budget – there's been no occasion where we've had to say "sorry you can't do 'X' without going back and making major changes to the building, putting in more steel work, spending vast amounts more money etc.
The beautiful new building has very fancy pre-cast concrete ceilings that you cannot drill into or add brackets to so it would be impossible to go back and put in a technical gallery for example. But, by working as theatre consultants and being responsible for the technical fit-out, we've succeeded in keeping costs in check for the ENB who are paying only for equipment which fits the building and not for any special work to be done to the building in order to accommodate the equipment.
From the very start of the project we've delivered continuity and that's not just benefited the client but it's been a huge advantage for us too. Because we've not had to come in and unpick or redesign any aspect of this project, it has saved us a huge amount of work – and because of this, and the fact we've had time on our side, we've not had to throw all our resources at it to ensure the job is completed to a tight schedule.
We've followed this project though from the very beginning and have had close contact with the technical team throughout. We've been able to steer the construction company to ensure that the right sort of floor is installed, that the right sort of access through the loading bay is considered. We have been mindful of the fact that ENB are having to fund all of this themselves and that a lot of the funding for this project will come from the sale of its HQ near the Royal Albert Hall and its school based in Fulham Broadway.
Practical completion is scheduled for April 2019 which will then allow for the HQ and and the school to move in later in the year. We look forward to bringing you the full story then.

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