Arts, Education

The Caryl Churchill Theatre

FWA won a competitive selection process in 2011 with proposals for a new theatre extension to Sutherland House, a 19thC listed house and stable block which is home to the University’s Department of Drama & Theatre.

The extension, which replaced a dilapidated studio theatre, provides a flexible galleried auditorium, with a seating capacity of 175, two rehearsal studios, a workshop and dressing rooms. The dark brick exterior, with its apsidal end, sits discreetly amid mature trees on the heavily wooded site and is connected to the house by a single storey glazed link.

The theatre, with its retractable seating, functions as a flat-floored teaching and rehearsal space during the day but can transform quickly and easily into a performance space by deploying the seating. The encircling facetted galleries provide architectural character and give actors the sense they are performing in a theatre, not a studio.

Sustainability is achieved through extensive use of natural light, rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic panels on the roof. The brick and steel structure achieves a high level of acoustic isolation required by its proximity to both a busy main road and a Heathrow flight path.

This is a robust response to a challenging brief, which creates a vibrant theatre space on a modest budget.

  • ClientRoyal Holloway, University of London
  • LocationEgham TW20
  • RIBA South East Regional Award Shortlist, 2014