By Mark Shenton
13 Mar 2013
Under the plans of Bennetts Associates Architects, internal and external alterations will be made to the theatre's existing stagehouse and flytower, to ensure the long-term viability of the venue to accommodate large-scale, self-produced and touring productions.
Bennett Associates was behind the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, completed in 2010, and the new Hampstead Theatre in London. Current projects include the major redevelopment of Glasgow's Citizens' Theatre and a new £40 million theatre and library in Chester.
According to press materials, the design approach for the Shaftesbury employs distinctive cor-ten steel cladding, which responds to brick and terracotta in both the existing theatre facades and the adjacent King Edward's Mansions. The height of the proposed flytower corresponds to the height of the mansion blocks, having the effect of completing the Grade II listed city block. The continuous, faceted form reduces the visual massing of the flytower and creates a series of bays in the façade, which reflect the scale and grain of the adjacent mansion blocks.
In a press statement, Simon Erridge, director at Bennetts Associates, commented, "The extension to the flytower at the Shaftesbury Theatre is an exciting and important addition to the prominent Grade II listed theatre and will ensure the future of the theatre to host large-scale productions. We look forward to working to deliver a design which not only transforms the theatre experience but creates a contemporary architectural addition to this important West End site."
Located at the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and High Holborn, the Shaftesbury Theatre was originally designed by the renowned theatre architect Bertie Crewe and opened as New Princes Theatre in 1911. In 2002 the flytower was strengthened to increase capacity and in recent years has seen further temporary adaptations to accommodate larger shows. The proposed extension to the flytower, on the Eastern boundary of the building facing Grape Street, will increase its height and loading capacity, with the aim to eliminate the need for temporary adaptation in future.
The west face of the extension will incorporate dressing rooms and office accommodation, increasing and consolidating the theatre's support spaces, which are currently housed in several locations across the site.
The Shaftesbury Theatre is currently home to Burn the Floor, the international dance revue. To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7379 5399 or visit www.burnthefloor.com for more details.