ABBA Voyage

Discovering innovative solutions to deliver the worlds largest demountable venue for the virtual production, ABBA Voyage
People mingle in front of an illuminated ABBA sign

Project information

Client Aniara Ltd
Location London, United Kingdom
Completed 2022
In collaboration with Stufish Architects
Services Client Advisor Theatre Consultants Acoustic Design
Awards Gold Winner; London Design Awards 2022 Event / Venue Space of the Year – Event Production Awards 2023 Events & Entertainment Project of the Year – AV Awards 2022
Concert scene with illuminated semicircular staging and spotlights

ABBA rocked the entertainment world in 2021 when they announced they would be returning with a brand new album and live show, for the first time in over 40 years!

The “comeback” performance, ABBA Voyage, is a nightly entertainment experience with the format of a live concert. In this case, the “live” performers are ‘ABBATARS’ – Digital Recreation of the original band members created with motion capture technology.

Working alongside the leadership of Stufish Architects, we advised the project team from concept through to completion with our work spanning across function and form of the venue, technical systems, acoustic performance and guest experience for the 3000 capacity venue set on the former Olympic Park in Stratford East, London.

The team embraced the challenge to discover a solution that would meet the ambitious brief. Working in close collaboration with the Architects, Engineers and production team, we helped devised a solution to build a lightweight bolted steel structure which enabled the venue to be built quickly, efficiently and importantly to be transportable. The design solutions provided a 70m column free space spanning as efficiently as possible to maximise the available space within the arena for uninterrupted views to the stage. We then devised an independent internal structure making use of sustainable mass timber to create the seating rakes, and house vertical circulation within the arena.

There is also extensive use of mass timber to the open front-of-house concourse in the form of a reconfigurable modular hybrid steel-glulam canopy, as well as CLT modules housing food & beverage, retail, VIP lounge and cloakroom spaces. The back-of-house accommodation is located withinprefabricated accommodation to the rear of the arena. Both of these features will allow the building to be reconfigured when it is relocated to another site.

Internally the auditorium follows a hexagonal geometry, with seating wrapping around a central dance floor. The visual effects wrap around the entire auditorium, fully immersing the audience throughout the production. The performance technology to create the spectacle included 500 automated lighting fixtures, 86 mirrors, 432 kinetic pixels on winches, 240 loudspeaker cabinets, projectors, automated lighting trusses, lasers and smoke have all been expertly installed to create a unique immersive experience.

The expense and scale of these emerging performance technologies are, for now, only feasible in long-term installations of mainstream content. Like any innovation these approaches will become more accessible to creatives and to audiences over time. Notwithstanding the technologies involved, this production has proven to us that the interactions of the audience together can be the most memorable moments of live shows. It’s always surprising to know that one of your friends knows every word to “Fernando.”

This unique project provided the perfect blend of architecture and entertainment, allowing us to create an amazing immersive experience for the audience, that has never been seen before.

Alicia Tkacz — Partner, Stufish Entertainment Architects
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