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A restauranteur and a physiotherapist...

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...make an unlikely client team, but it is a combination that has spawned the first boutique physiotherapy clinic, in the spectacular setting of the old Theatre Royal in the West End of London.

The designer, Gordon Russell of DETAIL architects and designers, got the job after working on a number of projects for the restaurateur Ronnie Truss (the co-founder of Bank and Fish!). Truss had already teamed up with sports physiotherapist David West to create Metis in Croydon, a new physiotherapy practice catering for the stars of sports and dance.

Russell says "Ronnie used David’s practice and recognized that although physiotherapists were professional, they don’t do it in a professional environment. There was nowhere to get this excellent treatment in comfort and style."

Truss and Russell decided on this remarkable site together; managing to lease the old scenery painting workshop - The Long Dock – of the grade 1 listed Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. The main fabric of the Theatre Royal dates from 1812, and although parts of the building are attributed to Christopher Wren, this space has been used a s a store since the 1970’s. Permanent alterations were strictly outlawed because of heritage interests.

The project thus became a series of five prefabricated, mirror-clad pods irregularly spaced on the ground floor with a new mezzanine above and the sports rehabilitation gym, changing and shower facilities in the basement. The pods themselves are colour coded and contain the treatment rooms.

Russell:" We spent a lot of time persuading interested parties that we could alter the existing fabric without making irreversible changes. We really didn’t want to do much to the essence of the building anyway. Our brief was to make it as practical as possible but to express that these guys are at the cutting edge of what they do. So we dropped these pods in as if straight from the sky.