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BENNETTS RAISES THE ROOF AT RSC

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AGENDA

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has submitted for planning this new scheme by Bennetts Associates for the redevelopment of its home in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

The scheme is the latest bid by the RSC to restructure its work in the town following the collapse last year of Erick van Egeraat's plans for a new home for the company.

The Bennetts plan retains the facade of the original grade II*-listed Art Deco theatre, while entirely reworking the original interiors in a bid to create what it is hoped will be 'the best theatre for Shakespeare in the world'.

Designed with theatre consultant Charcoalblue, this proposal aims to be a modern take on the Shakespearean courtyard theatre, with a thrust-stage auditorium seating over 1,000 people.

The scheme's key move is to create a new roof, which will straddle the main Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the smaller Swan Theatre and will appear to almost hover above the pair.

A new foyer will be created to the west of the complex, sitting behind the Art Deco facade, while a new walkway will run down the south side of both theatres, linking them together.

Since outline sketches for the project were published in June this year, revisions have been made to the roof and the new tower. The revised design accommodates a larger roof which, according to the practice, will 'oat dramatically' over the facade and then extend south to wrap around the existing ytower and backstage wings.

There have also been alterations to the plans for the 35m tower, which is as yet unnamed.

This process has resulted in designs for an insulated and waterproofed viewing room within the walls of the tower, offering views over the town and the river. Above this is an open-air platform, from which there will be views across Stratford and the surrounding countryside.

Three brick walls that taper and twist towards the top contain the inner steel structure, stairs and lifts.

An independent community forum was set up in March 2005 to consider the plans. And since the publication of outline designs, the RSC and Bennetts have run a programme of public consultation. Support from local groups won through this process represents possibly the single biggest achievement to date of the Bennetts plans.

One such group, the Stratford-upon-Avon Civic Society, told the AJ that it considered the process of drawing up the proposals a 'case study in the process of public consultation'.

'We've been involved all the way and are very pleased with the plans, we will almost certainly support them, ' a spokesman for the society said.

Work on the transformation is scheduled for completion in 2010.

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