Young Vic, 2006

rebuilding a world famous theatrical powerhouse

The Young Vic is a famous producing theatre in south London, originally designed in 1970 as an informal, temporary space for the National Theatre company. Thirty years later, the theatre had become one of Europe’s most important producing houses but the building itself had become physically dilapidated, too small, too energy hungry and technically obsolete.

Because the innovative thrust stage auditorium had proved a potent performance space and the old butchers shop foyer (a lone survivor of wartime bombing) an important vessel of communal memory, the rebuilding project re-imagined a new theatre grown around these two fragments, upgrading the auditorium for even greater theatrical flexibility and adding an enlarged foyer bar, two new studio theatres and much improved support spaces.

Each individual component of the reimagined building was expressed as an individual element to create a more informal presence amongst the mixed scales of the surrounding streetscape.

At the heart of the new building is a multi-functional bar and foyer space, conceived as a natural extension of the public street, connecting directly with all three auditoria and serving as a public living room for the local community throughout the day and evening. There is no separate stage door - actors, staff and public enter and leave the theatre together.

Artist Clem Crosby painted a series of monochrome panels for the new auditorium façade, layered with aluminium mesh and uplit to create a theatrical gauze effect.

The unique, hand painted auditorium signifies the live, unrepeatable nature of the theatre events happening within. The larger studio theatre is clad in geometric brickwork to reference the diagonal mesh of the main house.

The building is designed along passive low energy principles, combining high insulation levels, natural ventilation, shading and orientation to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. The ‘public’ and ‘private’ territories of the theatre as a whole are deliberately merged to heighten the sense of a shared democratic architecture.

Since its opening the new Young Vic has become a central part of London’s cultural life and one of the world’s most discussed theatre.

“...perhaps the only architects around capable of doing the necessary work and intervening in the right places without ruining the spirit of the place, without stripping it of its passion, its past, of the sweat embedded in its walls.” Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times


The Cut, London


Young Vic

Main contractor

verry construction

project manager

buro four

structural engineer

jane wernick associates

services engineer

max fordham

quantity surveyor

davis langdon

theatre consultant

theatre projects with charcoalblue

façade consultant

montresor partnership

collaborating artist

clem crosby

picture credits

philip vile, leon puplett

Selected Awards
2008 — RIBA Stirling Prize Shortlist
2008 — Civic Trust Award: The Young Vic Theatre
2008 — AIA/UK Award: The Young Vic Theatre

Behind the scenes
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