In 2007 the National Theatre began thinking about how its mission is reflected in its building. The priorities were three-fold: to maintain the fabric and infrastructure of a hardworking building; to continue to develop artistic capability; and to improve amenities for audiences. We wanted to explore ways in which the building could respond to the dramatically changing environment of the South Bank; and we saw the potential to open the building up, making it, in parts, literally more transparent so as to reveal the processes of the hundreds of craftspeople, designers, actors and technicians working under its roof. Architects Haworth Tompkins (who were responsible for the redevelopment of the National Theatre Studio) were appointed by the National Theatre to begin the process of developing capital projects identified in the NT's future design strategy. Having written a Conservation Management Plan [see below] for the Grade II* listed building, Haworth Tompkins have now produced a Masterplan, which has been conceived both as an architectural project and and as an enabler of the NT's mission. It wraps into an integrated plan not only responses to defects and opportunities that are evident 30 years after the building's completion, but also ways of making the organisation more efficient to run and capable of continuing to operate at very high levels of productivity and artistic standards. The first phase of Masterplan works will transform the main entrance, providing transparency to the river walk, and a legible entrance sequence into the foyers, which will be refurbished. The service yard on the river bank will be relocated to the back of the building, allowing the north-east corner of the NT to be opened up to the river walk. New cafés will animate the public realm with outside seating leading to the main entrance, where the anchor stair will be refurbished, and new planting and finishes will improve the terraces. The Cottesloe theatre foyer will be enlarged and refurbished, and the area outside it regenerated as a more welcoming public space. In current workshop areas adjacent to the foyer, two new education and participation spaces will be created to welcome school groups and others into the NT. Space for all of these developments will be made by a new studio for scenic artists at the rear of the building. With a glazed wall to Upper Ground, this will open up the NT's workshops to public view, allowing views deep into the production areas. These will also be opened up internally by a high level walkway, available to the public. The National is working to a budget of £50million for the first projects. We aim to conclude the next phase one design stage at the end of the year, and planning applications next summer. The Conservation Management Plan, prepared by Haworth Tompkins Ltd, assesses the significance of the building in all its intricate, working detail. It also places it in its historic context, and looks at the impact of the dramatic changes in the South Bank area since 1976. The plan provides a framework through which any changes or repairs to the building should be developed. Authorship, stakeholder participation and consultation process The CMP has been commissioned by the National Theatre. Haworth Tompkins Ltd has researched and prepared the Conservation Management Plan with contributions from Dr Barnabas Calder, who has written extensively on Denys Lasdun, and Dr William Fawcett of Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd (CAR Ltd). The plan has been developed in close consultation with the National Theatre directors and staff team, Lambeth Planning Department, English Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society, the South Bank Centre, the South Bank Employers Group and the Lasdun Group, comprising members of the original design team. Advice on the structuring and content of the Plan has been provided by CAR Ltd and David Heath, formerly chief architect of English Heritage. The Conservation Management Plan is directed at a wide readership and will be of use and interest to anyone working in and using the building. The Conservation Strategy sections and associated policies will be regularly referred to by all those who take decisions with regard to the fabric, and must be available to designers, consultants and contractors working on the building.
|Publication status||Published - 2008|
- national theatre
- conservation plan