Fancy an “immersive retail experience” at Mornington Crescent’s iconic music venue KOKO? No? Well, that’s one of many rather drastic new changes the owners are promising when it relaunches next year.
Before that, the seminal space will close its doors to undergo a major £40million state-of-the-art transformation – opening in spring 2020 as a “world-class music and hospitality destination”.
The redevelopment includes the acquisition of two adjacent buildings (yep, including the former Hope & Anchor pub behind) and a complete renovation of the rooftop area, adding more than 20,000sqft of new spaces, whilst retaining the main venue’s 1,500 person capacity. The transformation will create what they’re ambiguously calling “a social destination”, where high-quality music, food, entertainment, and hospitality come together.
The new KOKO, designed by Pirajean Lees and architect David Archer (Chiltern Firehouse), will therefore comprise six live performance areas, a radio station and broadcast studio, three new restaurants, a rooftop conservatory and a penthouse space where artists can rehearse and record music. Oh, and that rather enigmatic immersive retail experience – guess we’ll have to see how that pans out.
Since its inception back in 2004, it’s undeniable that KOKO has hosted some of the most important live music moments in recent years, including seminal performances from Prince, Kanye West, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Amy Winehouse and Noel Gallagher. Previously, as the Camden Hippodrome, the venue famously hosted shows by The Rolling Stones, The Clash, Spandau Ballet, Blur, Prince and Madonna.
The major reconfiguration comes in the wake of a large number of small independent venues closing or being sold to large corporate organisations. “KOKO has always taken great pride in our innovative approach and we can see that our audience want a 360-degree experience in the future,” says owner Olly Bengough, “and it’s our duty to deliver that, to cut out the unknowns of going to a venue our size, most of which haven’t changed since the 1950s. This isn’t just about offering a music venue. In the Camden spirit of independence, auteur-ship and eccentricity, we want to offer an unrivalled experience.”
KOKO will hold a closing party with a special live act on Tuesday 5 March – full details to be announced on Monday 4 March. It will open its new doors in Spring 2020.