The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, 2012

the reinvention of a much-loved theatrical institution

The Open Air Theatre, originally designed by the respected British architects Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis, is an increasingly well-regarded London producing house as well as a popular visitor attraction throughout the summer.

Hidden by mature landscape from all sides, the theatrical experience relies on a sense of discovery, of entering a different world within the everyday surroundings of the park.

Haworth Tompkins has been collaborating with the theatre for over twenty years to transform and expand the creative capacity of the theatre through a series of phased projects: protecting the things that continue to make it unique, solving the things that had sometimes made it frustrating and finding new opportunities for growth.

Working with landscape architect Camlin Lonsdale, the first phase of work reconfigured the foyer and front of house areas to create picnic lawns, a new studio for rehearsal, performance, events and catering, sheltered seating areas and a long, covered bar amongst the mature Horse Chestnut trees. A language of planted trellises and woven hazel façades was used to merge architecture and natural landscape into a single, seamless environment.

A second phase has added new offices and back of house facilities amongst the trees and a new box office and entrance building, enabling the organisation to remain resident on the site throughout the year for the first time. The new buildings are made of prefabricated timber panels for clean, fast construction and low carbon use.

Using a combination of unfinished and dark stained Larch for the external skins, the structures are already growing back into the landscape that envelops them.

Recent work has examined ways in which the theatre might respond to new opportunities and to the success of its productions.

Tap to cycle the gallery

Throughout this long working relationship with successive artistic directors, the aim has been to support the growing theatrical capacity of the organisation while preserving the magical sense of entering a secret world at the centre of the London’s most elegant park.

“Subtly but incisively redesigned by Haworth Tompkins, the building looks sleek and intentional.” Susanna Clapp, Theatre critic

client

regents park open air theatre

main contractor

ashe construction

project manager

bollingbrook

structural engineer

price & myers

services engineer

skelly & couch

quantity surveyor

bristow johnson

landscape architect

camlin lonsdale landscape architects

picture credits

philip vile


Awards
2014 — Civic Trust Commendation: The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
2013 — New London Award: The Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Behind the scenes