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The Playhouse

Part 2 Project 2009
Andrew Catton
Ryan Bond
Matt Smith
University of Portsmouth, UK
Almost all contemporary and traditional theatres are composed of a hierarchy of ‘servant and served’ spaces, concerned with the separation of performers and audience in order to suspend disbelief and increase the power of the performance. Our thesis attempts to question this hierarchy, and to investigate new approaches that may broaden and enhance the appeal of theatre to all.

To do this, the proposed scheme rethinks the traditional section arrangement of theatrical spaces. Where typically, the production and stage areas are completely hidden from public view, we propose that a more open approach to the production format would actually enhance rather than diminish the theatrical experience.

This is achieved through repositioning and exposing elements of the specialist theatrical design, production and manufacturing industries throughout the site, such that the effort, skill and craft behind the process of theatre can be appreciated, and that these talents and products can be offered commercially to the local community and visitors to the site.

The second change concerns the front-of-house space. Acting as a lynch-pin for the entire development, it is intended that this space could take the form of a dynamic open courtyard, fulfilling the metaphor of a stage surrounded by differing entities - a role performed by the three auditoriums themselves. This public space ‘stage’ would be used for a plethora of functions, allowing creative events to take place on a platform that celebrates the notion of a melting pot for culture.

The aforementioned three theatres and supporting industries would feed off this public space, completing the notion of theatre as an open community rather than a closed, single functioned venue. It would become a place to visit not only to see a show, but for the quality and range of spaces and facilities it offers - a destination space.

We believe that this framework would enable The Playhouse to become, in time, a true reflection of the national Irish culture it is intended to represent, because the character of these spaces would be determined by the people that use and evolve them, rather than being rigidly prescribed by the designer.

Andrew Catton
Ryan Bond
Matt Smith

This project responded to a larger urban idea for the redevelopment of a site in Dublin adjacent to the Dublin Docklands regeneration scheme. It aimed to extend the influence of the Docklands as a regenerator for the area and use the activity of 'theatre' as a catalyst for activity and also to create a new identity for the area alongside a disused canal basin.

This project involved a careful consideration of the nature of Irish theatre to create a new community for theatre that could embed itself into the specific location of Dublin, but also to extend the cultural sense of theatre as both experience for actor, audience and also those involved in its production. These aspects of the ' Playhouse ' were to suggest a scheme that could become embedded into the urban fabric of Dublin part of its present and future cultural identity.

The resulting scheme is extensive in scale and ambition, a series of performance spaces that are linked by external urban 'rooms' and streets. The language of the city and the theatre work together to create a new place , a permeable' Playhouse.'

The drawings that support the scheme are carefully considered, very well executed, describing concept , site and the fabric of the building , they succinctly explain a complex idea of city and theatre.

Ms Lorraine Farrelly

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