Following competitive interview Ian Ritchie Architects, supported by Arup engineers, were appointed by Plymouth Theatre Royal to create a Production Centre of excellence providing adaptable facilities for the Theatre Royal’s home productions in the Main Theatre and Drum and for associate West End and international productions.
The Production Centre, known as TR2, is capable of supporting two separate productions simultaneously. All production activities including set, costume and prop manufacture are centralised and integrated with rehearsal, education, and communal spaces. Performers can rehearse and be available for measuring-up and fitting costumes as the set is fabricated. Designers, producers and directors have spaces to work. Students have the opportunity to witness production activities and to mix with professional performers.
The building occupies a newly created prominent waterfront site within the river Plym estuary. Our concept played with themes and ideas associated with this location:
Driftwood – rehearsal pods, seemingly ‘washed up’ on the Zen-like rock riverbank landscape;
Cardboard Theatre – overlapping layers of the building present a montage of activities within;
Veils – light filtering, naturally weathering skins of the envelope;
Yin and Yang – principle activities of manufacture and performance organised by rotational symmetry around circulation routes encourage chance encounters and a sense of community.
A range of weathering materials was used externally. The woven phosphor bronze wrap of the ‘beached’ performance spaces presents a soft metal building to the public riverside footpath. The material patinates, and the maritime setting means gull guano stripes the surface with striking colours, including fluorescent greens and gold.
Internal workshop floors and walls are of plywood, allowing them to be exploited as construction surfaces and replaced economically, and also creating freedom to create and interact with the architecture.