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Key theatre design trends: Temporary theatres

08/08/18

In the fourth instalment of our series exploring key theatre design trends with Managing Partner Andy Hayles, we’re looking at temporary theatres and the impact they can have on their communities.

The auditorium of the Temporary Theatre at the National Theatre, London. Photo: Philip Vile.

“People fall in love with temporary theatres, so much so they’re having increasingly long lives," says Andy. "Take London’s Young Vic, which was only meant to be there for five years, but was so popular that it was renovated to become permanent. Temporary venues are often the best solution for someone with a limited budget and the need to create something a bit different."

“For example, we built a little temporary theatre with the architects Haworth Tompkins for the National. It was just a simple 200-seat auditorium, with a grill around the bottom to let fresh air in, four chimneys to let the hot air out, and a simple lighting rig. We wanted to have a 13 amp plug connected to the walls of the National to show how little energy is actually needed to run a space of this size."

“Temporary venues are often the best solution for someone with a limited budget and the need to create something a bit different.”

Managing Partner Andy Hayles

The auditorium of the Temporary Theatre at the National Theatre, London. Photo: Philip Vile.

The Young Vic was only envisioned to last five years but has been renovated and is now a permanent London theatre fixture. Photo: Philip Vile.

“It cost just over £1m and was used for three years – two years longer than planned. It’s a great reminder that you don’t need to spend hundreds of millions to realise a great theatre."

“If more people built with sustainability and efficiency in mind from the start, there would be more spaces for communities who need them.”

Read the full interview with Andy on CLADGlobal now.

An external shot of the Temporary Theatre at the National Theatre, London. Photo: Philip Vile.

Case study: The Temporary Theatre at the National Theatre

As a result of the year-long refurbishment of the Cottesloe Theatre during 2013, the National Theatre built a temporary theatre on the area in front of the building. The Temporary Theatre operated throughout the newly named Dorfman’s refurbishment and remained in situ until 2017.

Designed by Haworth Tompkins with Charcoalblue, we ensured that the 250-seat auditorium was as low-energy, sustainable and recyclable as possible, in recognition of its temporary lifespan. The design developed to create a tightly focused three-sided playing area with a small fixed balcony; the simple rectilinear form included internal performer/ audience circulation and the possibility of in-the-round and flat-floor formats with the addition or removal of blocks of seating. The space made use of natural ventilation, LED theatre lighting fixtures, stage floor and galleries constructed from reusable modular panels, and seating reused from the old Cottesloe Theatre.

Go backstage at the Temporary Theatre at the National in this film.

Andy Hayles

Chat to Andy about temporary theatres.

+44 (0)20 7928 0000

Andy Hayles

Chat to Andy about temporary theatres.

Contact Andy

+44 (0)20 7928 0000