• St Edwards School, Oxford
  • North Wall auditorium at St Edwards School (image credit: Charcoalblue)

...from 20th-century swimming pool to 21st-century theatre

North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford


Project summary


St Edwards School is a 19th-century public school in Oxford - the alma mater of Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Graeme.


The North Wall building is a sensitive conversion by Haworth Tompkins architects of an existing swimming pool in the school’s grounds. The converted space houses a 270-seat flexible ‘found space’ theatre, plus a rehearsal space, dance studio and art gallery. The theatre plays host to visiting professional theatre companies and hosts a drama summer school, theatre and music festivals.


Together with the architects, we have designed a tightly focused, flexible courtyard space for drama. End-stage, thrust, traverse and in-the-round configurations are all possible making use of the existing swimming pool depression. The existing brick shell is complemented by an auditorium constructed entirely of timber, including the technical bridges and galleries.


Charcoalblue also designed all the technical facilities for the space and oversaw the installation of the stagelighting and audiovisual systems.