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Southwark Theatre School

Part 2 Project 2004
Irena Stoeva
Harry Insall-Reid
Kingston University Kingston | UK
This project is for a Southwark Theatre School. The school is a higher education facility for the dramatic arts, located north of Southwark Street nearby Borough Market on London’s South Bank.

The site consists of an urban void formed by the junction between two railway viaducts, and its immediate surroundings. It is a highly layered fragment of urban fabric with many different activities in a small area. The theatre school builds upon the inherent theatricality of the site, and enriches the existing context by overlaying its own programme onto that of the public domain. The building aims to profoundly situate the students and staff of the school into their social environment. The building provides public performance spaces, teaching facilities and student accommodation. The relationship between the individual, the community of the building, and the city around them, informs the architecture of the school.

The proposal is constructed around ideas of democratic and participatory space, which relate to the theatres of ancient Greece, as well as those of Elizabethan Southwark.
The school aims to encourage greater participation in theatre performances by challenging the convention of contemporary theatre space. The performance spaces are daylit to undermine the prioritisation of space and create an environment where the audience is no longer a passive witness but aware to be made up of individuals all part of a community.
The spatial experience of the building consists of a series of loosely defined, ambiguous, interlocking spaces. These spaces are graduated and differentiated by the changing conditions of the ground and the ceiling. The subtle manipulations of the flow of space establish transition from the most private to the most public areas. Therefore rather than a definitively formed designated theatre space, the performances can take place in various locations. In this way the spatial manifestation of the building becomes a metaphor for the role of th

Irena Stoeva
Harry Insall-Reid

Irena's Theatre School emerged from impressive research into both the city and the idea of theatre – the latter being a key dimension of the history and contemporary reality of the site. The result is a remarkable project which offers an innovative rethinking of the spatial structuring of the theatrical event, allowing for a genuinely participatory experience of the building, in both the performance and the public/foyer spaces. The tectonic quality of the building enhances this ‘ambiguity of boundaries’ and consistently convinces of the appropriateness of the project to both site and purpose.


Dr Alexandra Stara
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