Great Hall, The Leys School

Cambridge, UK

As the only co-educational boarding and day school in Cambridge, The Leys School boasts close links to Oxbridge colleges and an enviable location just south of the city centre. The 337-seat Great Hall theatre equips the school with a modern performing arts centre and valuable facilities for external events.

Replacing the previous theatre on the campus, the brief called for an intimate drama and music theatre which can be transformed into an assembly room for up to 600 students.

The Great Hall at The Leys School is an ambitious new performing arts centre which adds a new string to the bow of one of the UK’s leading independent schools. Beyond the auditorium lies a sizeable and flexible foyer for receptions and events and a spacious backstage area which includes dedicated dressing rooms and additional space for costumes, scenic construction and storage.

Replacing the previous theatre on the campus, the brief called for an intimate drama and music theatre which can be transformed into an assembly room for up to 600 students. In response, we developed a room with a fixed balcony and flexible stalls. The rear wall of the stalls can be opened up to the foyer and the seating retracted so that high-seating-capacity assemblies, examinations, and exhibits, as well as other theatrical staging formats, can utilise the large flat floor area.

The building also hosts a 100-seat studio theatre, three drama studios, a dance studio, and large scene shop, dramatically increasing the school’s capabilities and opportunities for performance. As well as leading the auditorium concept and advising on the general planning of the building, we provided acoustics and technical theatre design services, including stagelighting, audiovisual and stage engineering.

“Great Hall balances the functional needs of a multi-purpose auditorium with the specific acoustic goals of drama performance for young people.”

Byron Harrison, Partner

We designed a number of features to allow the Great Hall to work well acoustically for a wide variety of performances

We developed a room with a fixed balcony and flexible stalls.

The Great Hall at The Leys School is an ambitious new performing arts centre which adds a new string to the bow of one of the UK’s leading independent schools.

“The form of the balcony front is simple and elegant but its contribution the theatrical impact of the room cannot be underestimated, Its presence lifts the space above the ordinary.”

Ben Hanson, Senior Consultant

As well as leading the auditorium concept and advising on the general planning of the building, we provided acoustics and technical theatre design services, including stagelighting, audiovisual and stage engineering.

We designed a number of features to allow the Great Hall to work well acoustically for a wide variety of performances, including sound-reflective surfaces in the stage area for musical ensembles and carefully shaped walls of the auditorium for clarity of the spoken word. According to the type of performance or rehearsal, acoustic conditions can be adjusted using high-level sound-absorbing curtains.

Safety features include a tension-wire grid installed over the auditorium and fixed lighting bridges over the stage. Double-stacked, the bridges provide access for maintenance to the flying systems that sit between them allowing for the suspension of scenic and technical equipment.

“We have been absolutely delighted with the work from Charcoalblue. There is no doubt in my mind that without their creativity, expertise and knowledge we would not have produced the design we have now.”

Paul McKeown Bursar and Clerk to the Governors

The building also hosts a 100-seat studio theatre, three drama studios, a dance studio, and large scene shop.

“It’s absolutely brilliant. You couldn’t have asked for a better building… I know of no school that has any theatre that can compare with what has been created here.”

Stephen Levy, former pupil and Tony Award-winning Theatre Producer

The new facilities dramatically increase the school’s capabilities and opportunities for performance.

Project Details

Client

The Leys School

Project cost

£8m

Completed

2013

Credits

M&E Engineer

Max Fordham

Photography

Richard Fraser

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Ben Hanson

Talk to Ben about Great Hall.

Contact Ben

+44 (0)20 7928 0000