On the 3rd of September, Paul Jozefowski, Project Director at National Theatre, provided an inside look into the development and construction of The Shed, by Haworth Thompkins. After winning awards and accolades numbering in the double digits, including our own AIA UK Excellence in Design in 2014, he informed us that the temporary structure’s life was extended into 2017, staying open even after the refurbishment and opening of Cottesloe Theatre. Many of us have remarked on the bright red modern re-interpretation of the National Theatre – noting the clever use of a timber slat façade reflecting the Brutalist board-form concrete of the renowned 1970’s theatre. The Shed undoubtedly stands out amongst the backdrop of the NT and revitalized Southbank area. Although our curiosity has been piqued by the exterior, perhaps not many of us have found our way inside the 225 seat dark (but not black!) box.
Mr. Jozefowski described the process behind the development and execution of such an ambitious project, given the limited budget of just over £1million. The collaboration between the architects, theatre consultants (Charcoalblue) and the many National Theatre members involved in the process brought new heights to the theatre, while still being quick (one year to design and build), cheap (in construction and operation) and environmental friendly. The form derived from the structural solution to building a temporary theatre on top of a car park, creating chimneys for natural ventilation, maximizing seating and views while providing flexible space, and a direct connection to the iconic National Theatre.
While the tour group sat in the balcony level seats, the set builders and lighting engineers below were assembling the set and suspended lighting truss for the upcoming production, Pomona. Due to the unexpected support and interest in The Shed, and the apparent need for theatrical venues of this size in London, the NT management have been inspired by its success. However, Mr Jozefowski insists that we must “say goodbye” to The Shed in April 2017. The design has inspired great performances and productions inside the theatre, but also inspires all those passers-by to stop, peak in and perhaps see a show they wouldn't otherwise. If you have not already - go see it for yourself!
Author: Frederick Grier