• National Theatre, London
  • National Theatre, London
  • National Theatre, London
  • National Theatre, London
  • Inside the Dorfman Theatre (image credit - Philip Vile)
  • Furnished Seating (image credit - Philip Vile)
  • Low Rake Seating in the Dorfman (image credit - Philip Vile)
  • Dorfman Theatre Exterior (image credit - Philip Vile)
  • Sketches depicting rake seating (image credit - Charcoalblue)

Increasing capacity and flexibility in this 20th century masterpiece 

National Theatre, London


Project summary


The National Theatre’s monumental London home was designed by Sir Denys Lasdun and opened in 1976. After over 35 years of intensive use it was refurbished and improved as part of NT Future, the NT’s large-scale capital redevelopment initiated by the Executive team of Nicholas Hytner, Nick Starr and Lisa Burger.


The new design has radically improved the former Cottesloe Theatre which reopened in late 2014 as the Dorfman Theatre with improved audience comfort, capacity and sightlines. The refurbishment included a completely new and highly flexible auditorium seating system and a comprehensive upgrade of technical facilities.


With Haworth Tomkins as lead and Charcoalblue as theatre consultants, our involvement included auditorium concept and design, increased seat capacity options, detailed sightline improvements, auditorium planning and designing technical systems and a highly innovative bespoke seating system to support the flexible scheme.


In a long-term partnership with the NT, Charcoalblue also designed a new computerised point hoist system in the Olivier and new lighting bar ladder winches in the Lyttelton Theatre.


We were also proud design partners in the creation of the Temporary Theatre (aka The Shed) and theatre consultants for the refurbishment of the National Theatre Studio.


We are deeply proud of our collaboration with the NT.