The O2 Arena North End
The O2 is one of the UK’s most iconic venues, housed beneath the unmistakable canopy of London’s former Millennium Dome. It’s 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 3000 "Matrix" removable seats were purchased for the arena floor. Then, in 2012, Audience Systems supplied the arena with 16 mobile retractable seating structures complete with luxurious fold-down seats.
In 2015, Audience Systems undertook a major project to design, manufacture and supply structures and seating for the arena’s North end. "We had a number of key objectives relating to the new system procurement," explains Steve Gotkine, Operations Director at The O2. "We were looking to increase numbers of seats and improve the speed and efficiency of the system."
Audience Systems’ design increased potential capacity by 200 seats and, as operations have proven, reduced the time and crew needed to set the system up by 60%. So how was this achieved? For the lower tiers, Audience Systems supplied two different sets of structure – standard retractable platforms for when floor space is a priority, but also low-rise retractable units allowing more rows of chairs to be created when seats are in high demand. For the top rows, something even more bespoke was created. "We wanted the top section (5 rows) to be able to stay in situ for standing shows and make the space underneath useable," says Steve Gotkine. "This meant a huge uplift in numbers of seats in this format but with no impact on standing floor available." The resulting raised structure created by Audience Systems is a first in UK arenas.
Audience Systems also supplied 1187 luxurious Espace 628CC seats to top these structures. Their thick, padded seats and high backs will contribute to the fantastic viewing experience that the O2 aims to give its customers.
Steve Gotkine reports a very positive experience of working with Audience Systems. "The team are always available and happy to work with the client. We threw some last minute curve balls down the line which we managed to include without any delay to the agreed installation period of the project." And did the seating itself fulfil expectations? "Yes! Especially the top section which was something that was designed from scratch to our specific requirements. I’d recommend Audience Systems to other venues."
Audience Systems are now set to undertake a similar but even more ambitious project to replace seating at the arena’s south end. We look forward to our continuing relationship with this ground-breaking arena.