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Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford, United Kingdom

Wednesday 24 Nov 2010

Return of the Bard

© Peter Cook 
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04/10/12 Richard Gotch, Stratford-upon-Avon
I remember the first time I walked into the auditorium and how thrilled I was that so much period detail had survived. Now it's been replaced with a giant recreation of a 70s municipal theatre.


Royal Shakespeare Theatre reopens following vast regeneration works 

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) in the Bard's home town of Stratford-upon-Avon has once again undergone a dramatic transformation. Since the original theatre was built in 1879, the site has seen various extensions, renovations and complete overhauls, including a rebuilding project following a devastating fire in 1926.

Bennetts Associates has been working on the 'Transformation' project since 2006, not only redesigning the architecture onsite but working at developing a relationship between the RST and the local community of Stratford-upon-Avon. The now completed regeneration facility is a multi-layered development, with a rich palette of materials utilised in the careful restoration and modernisation of the existing building.

Elisabeth Scott's 1932 auditorium was riddled with communication issues, with the distance from stage to balconies and bare side-walls making it difficult for the actors onstage to develop the necessary relationship with the audience. These communication problems were continued on a larger scale, with entrances to the building directed towards the neighbouring River Avon and Bancroft Gardens as opposed to the town itself.

In an effort to combat these issues, Bennetts Associates creating additional entrances to the building to increase its permeability, identifying potentially popular pedestrian routes and creating a continuous riverside walkway to accommodate the renewed traffic. Internally, the original brick elevation of Elisabeth Scott's design has been uncovered, its fan-shaped geometry clearly evident in the 'kinked' elevations on all sides of the building.

The core of the RST is now an intimate auditorium; a 1040 seat thrust-stage performance space inspired by Elizabethan, Jacobean and contemporary theatre design. Cushioning the auditorium on three sides is a triple-height void which points to the avid history of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
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Bennetts Associates Architects

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