Following 2012’s auditorium refurbishment, the Bristol Old Vic team set out to make the theatre a welcoming place for the whole of Bristol. They consulted for three months with the public, Council, heritage organisations, audiences and staff.
The proposals included a new wide, open entrance foyer with lifts to all floors, more loos, a new studio theatre, longer bars and the return of Coopers’ Hall to its original 18th century use as an events space for the city.
The new foyer design was inspired by the openness of an Italian piazza, with natural light filling the space through high-level windows. Open all day, the comfortable, spacious and relaxed foyer will have a welcoming café atmosphere. In the early evening, the restaurant will offer a quick snack or a full pre-show dinner.
The new space will also meet high environmental standards, with a ‘green’ planted roof and passive ventilation through an underground labyrinth, instead of air conditioning. This will make the new buildings efficient to run, as well as reducing the organisation’s carbon footprint.
Structural challenges included a complicated timber diagrid over the foyer, alterations within a Grade I listed building and advice on intricate architectural metalwork detailing to expose structure, craftsmanship and the history of the building.
The team included Haworth Tompkins Architects, Max Fordham, Charcoalblue, Gardiner & Theobald and Plann
Client . Bristol Old Vic
Architect . Haworth Tompkins Architects