Next Project

Community Theatre, Barnsley, South Yorkshire

Part 1 Project 1999
Suzi Winstanley
University of Sheffield, UK
The Theatre for Barnsley project represents a fusion of conceptual explorations of theatre and movement and sensation of the body in space via the physical laboratory of dance, with a desire for actual realisation of such endeavors within a dynamic site and demanding architectural brief.

The workshop based Bodylines project was used in the design process as a vehicle to translate lines of movement through space from one city to another and one body to another via movement traced by film, drawing, and sounds. These (pre-)described journeys of separate individual bodies collide within the theatre, specifically at the stage- a tentative interface between audience and performer, and at the spaces of transition and pause, the foyer, the café, the workshop. The manipulation of community space must be such that performers, audience, all manner of individual bodies can interact, mingle, mix.

The site (of the old cinema), in the South Yorkshire town of Barnsley links a main shopping street to a beautiful public garden. The bulk of the theatre is lifted from the ground floor to retain a flow of people from street to garden, garden to street. The enclosed box of the auditorium is shattered allowing people, sound and light to move into and within the space.

The theatre is choreographed around two main paths that create linear axis through the building responding to the exciting parade of the audience through foyer, ice cream and programme and the tingles and excitement that accompany the performer’s ritual transition to stage. The routes are linked visually via a huge atrium space. Coloured glass provides an interface between audience and performer revealing their mutual presence via moving shapes and light but belying their identities as specific bodies.

The theatre for Barnsley is an initial personal attempt to fulfil demands of function and workability whilst describing abstract experimental research in space that, like performance, is lived through, experienced, (mis)remembered, interpreted and revisited.

Suzi Winstanley

Suzi Winstanley’s project for the Barnsley Theatre is based around a provocative engagement with ideas of performance and dance, subjects which Suzi also explored in her dissertation. Her design for the theatre carefully considers the drama and rituals of perfomance, weaving a sensory sequence of spaces for both audience and actors. The building is sensitively inserted into the surrounding context and thoughtfully creates subtle new routes and public spaces. The proposal is very accomplished, controlled, mature work for degree level. It was assessed at a first class level and is supported by thorough precedent and technical studies.

Project Brief:

The brief was involved the design of a 300-400 seat community theatre and associated facilities (café, bar, workshops etc). Precedent studies gave a broad understanding of the range of theatre types and enabled students to make informed decisions about appropriate forms of auditoria. The scope of the project ranged from broad urban considerations in the choice of site and development of public spaces around the building to the detail design of key internal and external elements.

Teaching Objectives:

The Barnsley Theatre was the major third year project (12 weeks in duration). The general aim of the project was to encourage an successful integration of the diverse range of subjects covered in the degree course.

Assessment was based on the following criteria:

-Awareness and understanding of design precedents.
-Successful integration of the proposed design within the existing context.
-Consideration of character of external spaces created around the proposed building.
-Development of a coherent design strategy and its integration with the technical aspects of the design.
-Consideration of qualitative aspects of the major interior spaces

• Page Hits: 3023         • Entry Date: 08 January 1999         • Last Update: 10 May 2001