Key theatre design trends: Theatres as community spaces
“Making your theatre a lot more inclusive and accessible to the whole community is a really exciting emerging trend," says Andy. "Currently, most lobbies are empty in the day time. In the West End, they open half an hour before the show begins. That’s wasted real estate. If you’re an austerity-pressed council spending all that money, why would you want to build all those square metres of space that are hardly used?”
“One reviewer said ‘this is the best bar in London, and apparently it’s got a theatre attached.’ If all the buildings we work on got that amount of life inside all day, we’d be delighted.”
Managing Partner Andy Hayles on the Young Vic.
Storyhouse incorporates Chester's library so visitors can take out a book all day. Photo: Peter Cook.
“We recently worked with Bennetts Associates on The Storyhouse in Chester, and their genius was to actually place the new town library in the lobby, where you can not only buy a ticket for a show when you go to borrow a book, but also have a G&T while you read the paper! There’s intensive daytime use, so it’s an innovative piece of value engineering. It’s such a delight that if you go six hours before a show, it’s really buzzing.”
“We experienced a similar thing with the Young Vic. Where else can you go at eight in the morning, get a croissant and stay for the day? When it opened, one reviewer said ‘this is the best bar in London, and apparently it’s got a theatre attached.’ If all the buildings we work on got that amount of life inside all day, we’d be delighted.”
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The foyer at Storyhouse. Photo: Peter Cook.
Case study: Storyhouse
Storyhouse is a significant new arts and theatre complex and the largest public building in Chester, UK. Constructed over two and a half years, it brings a theatre and cinema back to the city after 10 years. The project, designed by Bennetts Associates, includes a new adaptable 500-800 seat theatre, able to transform itself from a summer festival stage into a winter touring proscenium house; and a new 150-seat studio venue located above the theatre. Inside the old cinema auditorium, the complex includes a new cinema screen, cafe and the city’s relocated library. We provided full consultancy services, leading the design of the flexible performance spaces and designs for the technical systems.