Wimbledon College of Art – Theatre

State of the Art Teaching Theatre

Wimbledon College of Art Theatre project's first phase was the construction of the Read More.

State of the Art Teaching Theatre

Wimbledon College of Art Theatre project’s first phase was the construction of the foyer in 2006. Phase II involved the refurbishment of the College’s theatre, an un-insulated proscenium theatre with a fly tower constructed in the 1960s. The College wished to create a new mezzanine to allow performance in the round, a new film studio, archive and ancillary spaces, and a new lift giving wheelchair access to all levels including the lighting and enlarged and improved control areas. The construction was also to provide disabled access linking the first floor studios at the front of the site to a new spine corridor at the rear.

Natural light and ventilation within the space were essential, as well as a ruthless honesty in expressing the construction; in which the theatre itself is acknowledged as a space and materials are left exposed or painted in light colours, rather than forming a ‘black box’. This approach builds on the traditions of Richard Negri, head of theatre at Wimbledon and instrumental in the creation of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester – see links below.

The solution was to wrap new accommodation around the old construction, resolving issues of leaks, heat and sound insulation, and to adapt the existing large theatre volume to provide a proper canvas for students of theatre to develop their skills.

Inserting complex building elements amongst existing buildings on a constricted site, whilst the institution is in use, working to tight budgets and time scales, programming the major interventions during holidays, and dealing with the reasonable and exacting demands of adjacent owners (Wimbledon Chase Primary School) were some of the real-life complexities of the project. Good working relationships established during the first phase, and the high value the local community puts on Wimbledon College of Art were key ingredients of success. Work commenced in September 2007, in phases, completing in September 2008.

The College now has a state of the art fully accessible teaching theatre, constructed within and around the existing facility, a film studio, a climate controlled archive, and the first vertebra of a strategic – lift and corridors – spine which will in future link the whole site.

Other interesting aspects of the project:

  • more than 3.1 km of electrical cable was installed in the theatre
  • a purpose designed counterbalanced draw bridge allows scenery to pass through the new mezzanine.

Wimbledon College of Art is part of the University of the Arts, London.

External Links:

David Burrows
Richard Negri
Wimbledon College of Arts

2007, 2008
Wimbledon, London, UK

Project Architect
Marcus Beale
Job Architect
Amit Sarma, Daiva Bartke, Yahya Ali
Quantity Surveyor & Project Management
Structural Engineers
Wyatt Carruthers Jebb
Services Consultants
Zisman Bowyer and Partners