RSC Courtyard Theatre

Key Facts:

Project summary: An interim theatre space that was to act as a replacement for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre while improvement work was underway

Location: Stratford-upon-Avon, England

Programme: Theatre

Initiator: Simon Harper (Director of the RSC)

Project Duration: Ongoing (Opened in 2006)

Lead in Time: 15 months (11 on site construction prior to opening)

Site Area: 1,080 square meteres (Gross internal area is 3,570 square)

Client Team: The Royal Shakespeare Company

Project Team: Ian Ritchie Architects

Funding Sources: Royal Shakespeare Theatre £6m, Advantage West Midlands £20m,

Funding Type: Private Donations & Grants

Project Costs (Build): Unknown

Project Costs (Operation): unknown

Profitability/Loss: Building Cost £5,681,146

Permissions / Permits: Looking at the circumstances pragmatically, it is unlikely that the building would have gained planning permission had it been intended as a permanent structure. At the time of its construction it was meant to be demolished in 2010 and conservationists in the town were opposed to the building despite its 4-year life span.

Local Links: The Royal Shakespeare Company and its existing workshop theatre.

Publicity/advertising: Replacing Royal Shakespeare Theatre meant that most of the original clientele visited the temporary space.

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
Located in Stratford-upon-Avon the site is owned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and it used to act as a car park for the workshop theatre.

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
Shakespeare is very big business. The Bard is calculated to bring £millions into Warwickshire each year in tourism and tourist-related revenue. Fundamental to the whole Shakespeare experience is a visit to the home of the internationally respected Royal Shakespeare Company and the chance to see one of their productions. The target audience then is tourist, Shakespeare purists alike and locals.

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
Due to its boldness and unusual material for the region, classicists opposed its construction, but because the building had a predicted short-life span of just over 4 years, planning officials decided to approve it. Two years after its planned demolition the temporary theatre is still standing and its benefits for the region and the RSC are too great to get rid of it, thus planning was extended by city officials until 2012.

Feedback from users / staff:
“It’s not often that architects exceed expectations – if only because most clients’ hopes are often unreasonably high. Our hopes were exactly that – and we got more, and better, than we bargained for, on time and on budget. Watching the first public performance from the furthest seat was proof that we had achieved our aims for our audience, in a splendid and charismatic setting.”
Sir Christopher Bland, Chairman RSC

What next?
The Courtyard Theatre is in the process of applying for an indefinite extension on its permission. It also intends to add more studio spaces and workshop theatres into the programme to respond to the new needs of the community.

Complementary Programmes: Studio Spaces, Cafe and Bar

Project Website / Further Info: