Sustainability Stories: Thurrock's natural spaces

The Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre opened at High House Production Park in Thurrock in October 2015 and is home to teams of highly-skilled scenic artists, carpenters, draughtsman, and metalworkers in the Royal Opera House Production Workshop. At the time of opening, Thurrock was at the forefront of sustainable building construction and is now doing even more to help both the local and global environment.

The Bob and Tamar Manoukian Costume Centre opened in October 2015 and is home to over 20,000 costumes from the Royal Opera House repertory, together with over 6,000 items from the historic collection including items worn by Maria Callas and Margot Fonteyn. High House Production Park is also home to the Backstage Centre; a flagship national training centre for Creative & Cultural Skills; and High House Artists’ Studios. The 39 artists’ studios and four work/live units are managed by Acme Studios. Also on site are Grade II listed barns, from which the ROH has delivered a Learning and Community engagement programme for the local and wider community since 2006.

Both the Royal Opera House buildings at the High House Production Park are uniquely heated and cooled. In the hotter months, the buildings are kept cool by natural ventilation that does not use mechanics to freshen the air, unlike conventional methods that rely on energy-using cooling plants. In the colder months, the buildings are headed by a ground source heat pump. This has lead to the Centre receiving a BREEAM excellent rating, meaning that they are in the top 10% of sustainable non-domestic buildings in the UK.

Staff that work in our Thurrock production workshops act sustainably every day, even without thinking about it. The water around the building is gathered both from rain water and excess irrigation water, meaning that there is very little water waste or water pooling on the roof.

One of the latest developments in Thurrock are sedum roofs. A sedum roof is a layer of living plants deliberately added to a conventional roof to benefit the local environment. Local air quality is improved with CO2 being absorbed by the plants. These roofs are also wildlife friendly which in turn helps the garden at Thurrock thrive too.