The long ironstone building is quite grand for a stable; for a theatre, on the other hand, it is compact and intimate. Designing a festival theatre required a distilled response, focused on the unity of stage and auditorium: there was no scope for a fly-tower, nor fora foyer with a grand stair. Every addition or adjustment within the auditorium had to be judged on its merits, to work in relation to the ironstone walls, and the doors and windows that pepper them.
We excavated the stalls and orchestra pit at the centre of the stable yard, at sufficient distance to avoid underpinning, creating a walkway around the edge. A new roof volume was built off the old stone walls, creating the maximum volume beneath the existing ridge line. Two-thirds of the seats are in the stalls, with a shallow rake and large radius; one-third are in a balcony, set relatively high to maintain the presence of the stone walls, and with a tight radius to focus the performance space; side balconies continue to the proscenium line.
The balcony is set at 600 mm off the walls, with voids sculpted out of its soffit responding to the tall doorways. The material palette of stone, concrete, stained woodand grey textile is restrained. These materials are warmed and brought to life by the daylight from the large central rooflight - as it rakes across the rough stone walls,the light reminds youthat this is still a courtyard, even if it is no longer a stable yard.