The Shed theatre by Haworth Tompkins, London

Exterior of the red shed theatre
Designed by architects Haworth Tompkins, The Shed is a new temporary venue for the National Theatre on London's South Bank. Photography: Helene Binet
(Image credit: Helene Binet)

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. 

Exterior view of The Shed theatre

It is directly linked to the National Theatre's main building through a temporary foyer that connects it with the permanent lobby. Photography: Helene Binet

(Image credit: Helene Binet)

Inside interior of the theatre with seating area

The structure was designed and built in little more than a year and houses a 225-seat auditorium made of steel and plywood. Photography: Helene Binet

(Image credit: Helene Binet)

Exterior of The Shed theatre with 4 chimneys on the roof

Haworth Tompkins designed the structure to be 100% recyclable, and its distinctive four chimneys offer natural ventilation. Photography: Helene Binet 

(Image credit: Helene Binet)

The Shed exterior showing timber cladding painted in red

The Shed's exterior timber cladding is painted an eye-catching red and its rough sawn format references the National Theatre building's iconic board-marked concrete. Photography: Helene Binet

(Image credit: Helene Binet)

Exterior of The Shed theatre

With one of the National Theatre's venues - the Cottesloe - being closed for a year during the complex's redevelopment, The Shed is filling in as a third auditorium for the organisation. Photography: Helene Binet 

(Image credit: Helene Binet)

Exterior of The Shed theatre with bright red walls

The buildings characteristic bright red windowless volume stands out playfully within the South Bank's concrete complex. Photography: Helene Binet 

(Image credit: Helene Binet)

Red roof of The Shed theatre

Opening with its first public performances this spring, The Shed will remain on the South Bank for a year. Photography: Helene Binet 

(Image credit: Helene Binet)

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).