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Many years ago, in the time before the twin pleasures of architecture and journalism got the better of me, I briey worked as a guide-of-sorts at the replica Globe on Bankside in London.

One of the key facts we drummed into visitors was that while the original late-16thcentury Globe was a great feat of architecture, it was by no means a precious place. It was a working theatre used in the main by a theatreobsessed working class.

Spring forward several centuries to the opening of Ian Ritchie's impressive Courtyard Theatre, reviewed by Alan Dunlop in this week's Building Study (pages 25-35). The scheme itself is transitory and will be taken down just as soon as Bennetts can complete a total reworking of the Royal Shakespeare Company's facilities in Stratford-upon-Avon. But it is this temporary nature of Ritchie's brief that has, it seems, allowed him to reect a Shakespearean attitude, albeit in a completely modern language.

The 1599 Globe was one of London's most eye-catching structures; a brash addition that raised the hackles of the puritanical middle class from the 'wrong' bank of the river. Ritchie's 21stcentury equivalent will no doubt trigger similar emotions in many visiting middle-Englanders.

But it is also the way the Courtyard Theatre will be used that is so reminiscent of the Globe.

It is robust. It is unembarrassed. One hopes people will walk in, soaking from a rainy tour of oh-so-quaint Stratford, and shake themselves down around the place. This is the attitude that Shakespeare wrote for and the kind of behaviour he would have understood. To have achieved this sense of history in achingly cool Cor-ten is no mean feat.

As a piece of theatre architecture, as an addition to Stratford's slightly stilted building stock and as an architectural reference to Shakespeare, Ritchie has clearly set a very high marker. Over to you, Rab.

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