The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre plays to audiences of 1200 every evening throughout the Summer. Renovated in 1976 by Howell, Killick Partridge and Amis, by 1998 the technical and front of house spaces had become obsolete and unsatisfactory. Audiences traditionally arrived by strolling across the park, but once inside the theatre enclosure, the woodland atmosphere was compromised by obtrusive car parking, refuse stores and decrepit buildings.
“Haworth Tompkins' scheme for the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park adds to the magical atmosphere of the place...the place is completely magical and has a wonderful air of innocence and eccentricity that the architect has skilfully reinforced.”
Catherine Croft, Building Design
With landscape architects Camlin Lonsdale, the public and private areas were redesigned to improve circulation patterns and replace many of the old structures. A language of screens, trellises and hedges was developed to suppress the architectural presence of the various buildings on the site and heighten the effect of the landscape setting.
The back of the auditorium was extended at high level to form a sheltered open foyer beneath, with space for better technical facilities above. A continuous trellis screen was created at the front of the foyer as a frame for flowering climbers. Artist David Ward designed an installation for the screen, weaving hundreds of tiny light sources over the mesh like a growing plant. Richness and warmth were added by red canvas roof panels and retractable windbreaks. The works were carried out within the six month window between summer seasons.
Open Air Theatre
Address: Regent's Park, London
Completion Date: May 2000
Construction Cost: £2M
Client: The New Shakespeare Company
Contractor: Ashe Construction
Structural Engineer: Price and Myers LLP
Service Engineer: Max Fordham LLP
Quantity Surveyor: Citex Bucknall Austin
Theatre Consultant: Theatre Projects Consultants
Landscape Architect: Camlin Lonsdale Landscape Architects
Access Consultant: Centre for Accessible Environments