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Glasgow boxes clever with new youth theatre

Gordon Murray + Alan Dunlop Architects has designed a new home for the Scottish Youth Theatre at Cowcaddens in the north of Glasgow. Sited near to other cultural buildings, including The Theatre Royal, The Piping Centre and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the theatre will contribute to the regeneration and expansion of this part of the city.

The building will contain three large workshop/rehearsal spaces and a studio, designed primarily for teaching technical stage-management skills, and for putting on experimental work and work in progress. There will also be a cafe, wardrobe workspace, administration offices and storage. With the age of users ranging from three to 25, the building has been designed as a series of boxes in materials such as timber, steel, concrete and glass, aiming to create the sense of surprise inherent in such children's classics as The Secret Garden, Alice Through the Looking Glass and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In this way, says the architect, the building should 'inspire and stimulate these internal activities as well as ... extending the imagination of all who enter.'

But the feeling of mystery has to be tempered with legibility to allow all the users to navigate through the building. The architect has tackled this by having a central foyer which rises through the three-storey height of the building and is surrounded by galleries and breakout spaces.

The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama has bought the entire Stagecoach site and will use part of it to house student residences, selling the rest to the Scottish Youth Theatre for its new premises.

Now submitted for planning permission, the building has 2500m2 of floor space, and a construction budget of £2.5 million. The theatre has resources of £600,000 and intends to apply for lottery funding and to launch a public appeal to raise matching funds.

Ove Arup and Partners is the structural engineer, Hulley and Kirkwood the environmental engineer and Thomas and Adamson the quantity surveyor.

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