A bright red new landmark has sprung up amid the concrete architecture on London's South Bank. Designed by Haworth Tompkins (in collaboration with theatre consultants Charcoalblue), The Shed is a temporary venue for the National Theatre's impressive program of shows, and adds to the South Bank's already powerful cultural pull.
Sited on Theatre Square, the new venue will act as a third auditorium for the National Theatre while one of its spaces - the Cottesloe - is closed for a year during the complex's redevelopment. It was designed and built in little more than a year and houses a 225-seat auditorium made of steel and plywood.
The Shed's rough sawn timber cladding references the National Theatre building's iconic board-marked concrete. Its intriguing, window-less volume features four corner chimneys that help natural ventilation; The Shed needs no artificial air conditioning. A temporary foyer connects it with the theatre's permanent lobby.
Using its flexible brand new venue as a vessel, the National Theatre is aiming to explore new ways of making of theatre with a programme that includes new plays, a theatre piece with music and a puppet show.
The Shed will stay on the South Bank for a year. Since the architect created it to be 100% recyclable and fitted out with re-used seating, the parts can be used to new creative ends once the 12 months are over.
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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
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