Project summary: The Courtyard Theatre was completely refurbished and relaunched as ‘The Other Place’. Located on the banks of the River Avon in Stratford-upon-Avon, it is a creative hub for learning, research and development with excellent facilities including rehearsal rooms, a 200-seat studio theatre, costume stores and a café.
Client: The Royal Shakespeare Company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, creates and produces shows for three theatres, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Swan Theatre and The Other Place. They design and build sets, create costumes and props, rehearse and perform shows before taking them on tour to audiences across the globe.
BC team: Having worked on the £112m refurbishment of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 2010, Stratford-on-Avon District Council Building Control had a well-established relationship with the RSC as well as a wealth of knowledge and experience relating to theatre design.
Key issues: The Other Place is built on a very tight site, bounded by a main road and residential properties. Part of the building was constructed in 2005 as a temporary home for the RSC but as the building had become part of the landscape and to reduce the environmental impact a decision was made to keep the façade, which was made of Corten steel sheeting. This meant that a new steel frame needed to be erected internally which was a challenge as large cranes had to be accommodated on the tight, and mainly residential, site.
Unexpected: The theatre and rehearsal rooms had to be sound-proofed so bespoke acoustic doors were specified by the design team. During construction the supplier ceased trading and the M&E contractor was unable to continue on the project. Despite this, the contractor still met project milestones, hit programme targets and delivered the scheme on time.
Building control inputs: During the initial stages LABC provided informed, pragmatic advice to the design team to ensure the scheme was compliant with building regulations long before planning permission was sought. The LABC team provided support throughout the construction phase through drawing on their past experience and knowledge of the local area. Their service included: consultation meetings; weekly visits; and flexible out-of-hours inspections (which fitted around rehearsal times).
Features of note: The building features modern efficient lighting, heating and ventilation which offer cost savings due to of better lifecycle costs and CO2 emissions. The costume stores house high value and historic costumes. Due to the location, the delivery of materials had to be well managed to minimise disruption to traffic and local residents. The lift, which was made from Polycarbonate, was innovative and offered opportunities for the teams to develop new skills and knowledge.