With about 40% of the building projecting over the water, the public begins its journey into the theatre by stepping off the quayside onto a rough oak deck that extends into a large glazed foyer facing the river. Here, during the day an un-choreographed atmosphere pervades: café and restaurant; empty cloakrooms, a shuttered box office and an unattended crush bar awaiting the crowds add to the sense of anticipation. At night, it welcomes the audience in by presenting its glittering interior to the waterfront.
This civic gesture is set against the other side of masonry block in which lies the much anticipated theatre. This is delightfully small and intimate, with only 650 seats, and especially modest given the superb scale of facilities behind the scenes – with enough room to slide in fully erected sets with the minimum of labour. It is a space that speaks of a refined level of attention and care, and bears witness to the intense collaboration between architect and client in delivering an exemplary space for the spoken word.
However, the most spectacular space of all lies above, in an enormous glass box hovering on the skyline., the daylit inner workings of the theatrical process are laid out like a city on the roof. However, the most spectacular space of all lies above, in an enormous glass box hovering on the skyline. Here, inverting all preconceptions the daylit inner workings of the theatre are laid out like a city with streets giving views into dressing rooms, costume departments, workshops and offices, self-consciously making theatre from theatre.