Brand Identity, Interiors & Architecture, Naming

Name, identity and interiors for a live music venue and nightclub that sits under the iconic domed roof of London’s O2 Centre.

Pentagram has created the name, identity and interior architecture for Matter, a live music venue that sits under the iconic domed roof of London’s O2 Centre.

Arranged over three floors, with a capacity of 2,600 and equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment, Matter is set to become a major landmark in London’s contemporary music scene.

Pentagram’s clients, Cameron Leslie and Keith Reilly, are the founders of London’s pre-eminent dance music venue, Fabric. They approached Pentagram at the very beginning of their new venture after both independently discovering images of Pentagram partner William Russell’s Bacon Street residence during their search for an architect. Their 3,200 square-metre new-build was handed over to Pentagram as a blank canvas consisting of a three-storey structural shell with first and second floor balconies overlooking a full-height central void.

Leslie and Reilly have built Fabric’s international reputation on the credibility of their music. Their plan for their space at the O2 was to create a live music venue that echoed Fabric’s commitment and focus while maintaining its own identity and repertoire; the idea of creating a second Fabric was out of the question. Pentagram was called upon to create a name and identity for the venue. Working with the early plans for a brutalist concrete architecture and the heritage of the O2’s location, on former industrial land on the Greenwich peninsula in South East London, Pentagram developed ‘Matter’ as their concept.

Matter, the substance of things, alludes to the raw physicality of the space as well as the idea that the venue is a stage; a physical space brought to life by music, light and people. The word’s associations and sentiment also echo those of Fabric. The logotype is executed in a customised version of Akzidenz Grotesk and is contained within a framing device based on the proportions of the golden section. Hyland has used the frame as an identifier in signage applications throughout the venue, including at the main entrance, where a pair of gateposts is formed by a supersized illuminated version of the frame made from perforated aluminium sheet.

Inside, Pentagram has created a concrete playground, brought to life by the high-tech lighting effects and projections that provide the majority of colour within the space. The materials used in the build have been chosen and detailed to play with light, using the different qualities of reflection achieved by the application of various finishes to the core palette of concrete, sheet metal and ceramic.

Matter is divided into three areas: Room One, the main auditorium, makes dramatic use of the central triple-height space. Room Two, a secondary space focused towards club nights is located towards the back of the venue on the first floor. A VIP area overlooks the central void from the second floor of the venue. Each of the three rooms can act as standalone venues or in combination to allow Matter the flexibility to scale their capacity to suit a diverse range of events.

Clubbers enter Matter through a main entrance facing the waterfront of the river Thames, in the side of the O2’s dome. Uniquely for a business at the O2, Matter has its own main entrance, allowing it to operate outside the opening hours of the rest of the complex. A secondary entrance within the O2 allows access for passing trade from other venues, such as the O2 Arena.

Once inside, patrons pass through the entry lobby, which contains ticketing booths and the cloakroom and enter into a bar area which backs on to Room One. A 15 metre poured-concrete bar faces on to an area screened from the dance floor by the DJ booth and Room One’s amphitheatre-style seating. Island tables sit beneath fully colour-controllable bespoke light fixtures which, partnered with LED wall washing lighting installed under the bench seating and behind the bar, bathe the space in coloured light.

At the heart of Matter is the full-height void, which houses Room One’s main stage and dance floor. The void has been framed with curved balconies on each of the two upper floors, which are echoed in amphitheatre-style seating edging the dance floor at ground level. On the top floor, the void is spanned by a Sky Bridge — a gravity defying steel ribbon with enclosed mesh sides that lean outwards, providing those brave enough with breathtaking overhead views of the dance floor below.

The entire central void has been digitally mapped into the lighting projection system, installed by Pixel Addicts, allowing lightshows, animations and film to be projected on to every surface within Room One, providing VJs with an incredible level of control. When the top floor is not in use, a projection screen can be drawn across the void, allowing large-scale projections to take place directly above the audience’s head.

Room One is overlooked by a first floor mezzanine, where seating areas provide a break from the intensity of the dance floor. The benches, stools and tables have all been designed by Pentagram in concrete and powder-coated steel. The mezzanine’s balcony surrounds the dance floor on three sides, overlooking the main stage.

Away from the balconies, towards the rear of the mezzanine stands the toilet block. Clad in monochromatic ceramic tiles, interspersed with internally-lit bricks, the two-storey toilet block sits between the mezzanine and Room Two, Matter’s second performance space.

Matter’s second floor is completely occupied by the VIP area. Accessed by its own lift and staircase, with a private entrance at ground level, the VIP area has balcony views of the main stage and its own private dance floor. In addition to the balconies, VIP guests have exclusive access to the Sky Bridge, a steel walkway suspended 15 metres above the main dance floor. Running the entire length of Room One, the Sky Bridge’s enclosed mesh sides lean outwards, offering a thrilling view of the action taking place below.

In a departure from the concrete and steel décor present in the rest of Matter, the VIP area is furnished with leather banquette seating running the length of the room, arranged into booths that centre on a steel-topped table with an integrated ice-bath used to chill drinks. Above the VIP dance floor, a VIP mezzanine offers a further level of exclusivity for Matter’s specially invited guests.

William Russell
Angus Hyland
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