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Architecture | Topics | Magazine 10/2013

"All the world's a stage": Temporary Theatre by Haworth Tompkins

The National Theatre in London, completed in 1976, is an outstanding example of brutalism in architecture. Comprising three auditoriums – the Lyttelton, the Olivier and the Cottesloe – the complex is now to undergo an approximately £70-million programme of modernization, while still maintaining stage operations. The conversion of the 300-seat Cottesloe marks the beginning.

Architect: Haworth Tompkins, London
Location: South Bank, GB–SE1 9PX London

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

Photograph: Philip Vile

Alongside the existing complex, an alternative theatre has been docked for 12 months. The simple steel structure is clad externally with red-stained timber boarding and was erected within two weeks. A conspicuous feature of this building are the four ventilation stacks, the height of which ensures an optimum functioning of the natural air extract. The stacks, the coloration and the horizontal facade boarding all enter into a dialogue with the existing complex.

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

The simple steel construction was mounted within two weeks.

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

Assembly of the centre stage in the temporary theatre

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

Setup of the ventilation towers

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

Finished steel construction

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

Ground floor plan: (1) Main entrance, (2) Foyer Lyttelton Theatre (current), (3) Foyer, Café, (4) Bar, (5) Artists' dressing room, (6) Lobby theatre, (7) Theatre, (8) Café (current), (9) Forecourt, (10) Lighting and sound equipment

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

View from National Theatre to »The Shed« and Waterloo Bridge

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

The steel columns of the construction are based on the concrete columns of the parking garage below.

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

Timber substructre for the red varnished roofing

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

Short before works were finished

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

Sketch of the air inlet opening at the pedestal body

National Theatre, The Shed, Haworth Tompkins

Photograph: Philip Vile

An extended project report can be found in DETAIL 2013/10 »Temporary Structures«.

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