Ustinov Studio, 2008

remodelling a leading UK studio theatre

Following successful completion of the Egg Theatre for children and young people, the Theatre Royal Bath commissioned Haworth Tompkins to renovate the adjoining Ustinov Studio theatre. Working on a very tight budget, the top priority was to improve the studio technically and spatially for experimental contemporary theatre practice. By redesigning existing technical infrastructure and re-modelling the proportions of the auditorium in plan and section within the existing building shell, a much more compelling 150 seat theatre space was created, with sightlines, audience proximity and comfort, technical capability and stage adaptability all significantly improved.

The second priority was to improve facilities for performers and technical staff. Circulation was rationalised to achieve disabled access and avoid crossovers of public and back of house spaces, new dressing rooms fitted and high-level access and control positions steamlined. Finally, an improved public entrance and street presence were created by relocating the main doorway and designing new signage. Inside, the foyer area was extensively remodelled and refinished with a bespoke bar counter, new floor, wall and ceiling surfaces, redesigned lighting and a new plywood staircase.

The theatre has flourished since the works were completed on time and on budget, earning a well-deserved reputation as one of the UK’s most innovative smaller scale venues.

“I’ve got the Ustinov we always wanted from the project... an exciting, vibrant, welcoming space, a fully functioning ‘grown-up’ theatre” Andrew Smaje, former Artistic Director, Theatre Royal Bath


Sawclose, Bath


Theatre Royal Bath

Main Contractor

Emerys of Bath

Structural Engineer


Services Engineer

Ernest Griffiths

Quantity Surveyor

Stephens & Co

Theatre Consultant


Acoustic Engineer

Fleming Barron

Picture credits

Philip Vile