Archive 2013

A Journey to Shakespeare eClassroom Talk

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For those of you unfortunate enough to miss out on last years AAA Special talk by Julian Lipscombe, Director of UK based firm Bennetts Associates Architects, you can now listen to this inspiring speaker on eClassroom and acquire CPD points.

For an overview of his talk click here to visit our May 2012 'All About Architecture'.

In September 2012 AAA Board members Annette Dearing and Vanessa Couzens undertook an architectural odyssey across Europe. Visiting architecture (both old and new) across Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain and England, the journey would not have been complete without visiting the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is north-west of London.

Bennetts Associates Architects won the national design competition for the redevelopment of building and it was completed in 2010. Julian Lipscombe kindly agreed to meet us there and show us around this impressive project undertaken by his firm.

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One of the most striking impressions from our visit to the redevelopment is its understated sympathy to the architectural features of the existing buildings. Bennetts Associates' interventions mesh together the formerly disparate styles of the original Victorian Shakespeare Memorial Theatre completed in 1897 (the shell of which houses the Swan Theatre completed in 1989) and a second Art Deco theatre space (The Royal Shakespeare Theatre) by English architect, Elizabeth Scott, completed in 1932.

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A new corner tower provides the complex with a formal destination for entry and gives a great view of the surrounding town and countryside.

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This leads the visitor into a generous linking lobby / corridor between the theatres, that once had separate entries. The corridor / lobby also spills out into the grounds to provide new outdoor performance areas.

The secondary role of the corridor / lobby is in providing functional access to the backend operations for delivery and movement of sets between the two theatres.

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The Royal Shakespeare Theatre housed in the Elizabeth Scott extension was completely refigured from its ‘cinema style' proscenium stage into a compact drum formation with a thrust stage. While experiencing the existing and reconfigured theatre, Annette and Vanessa enjoyed a sneak preview of rehearsals and got to experience the operations of the theatres first hand.

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After a satisfying morning of architectural exploration, Annette, Vanessa and Julian adjourned to the RST Rooftop Restaurant to enjoy some culinary edification! Within the restaurant, elements salvaged from the redevelopment have been utilised to provide visual interest to the decor.

  • Article: Vanessa Couzens
  • Photographs: Vanessa Couzens