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FIRST LOOK

Reed Watts completes ‘woodland studio’ for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

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The 480m² addition brings the theatre’s operations on to one site for the first time in its 86-year history

Built in seven months during the theatre’s winter season, the new studio by young firm Reed Watts sits among protected Royal Parks trees which the building both defers to and references, in a way the firm describes as ‘recessive and thoughtful’.

The structure is constructed from a prefabricated, CLT panel system which could be erected quickly and required relatively small foundations, reducing the impact on neighbouring tree roots. Externally the building is clad in a band of dark stained larch at the base, with a crown of textured cladding at higher levels. The cladding has been designed so that it presents a black restrained façade to public sides (the Inner Circle and Nannies Lawn) with a golden texture visible from the theatre.

Regent's park open air theatre studios by reed watts architects © simon kennedy 03

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Studios by Reed Watts Architects

Source: Simon Kennedy

Located in the far corner of the site, the structure is intended as a natural extension to the existing theatre buildings along the boundary edge. At ground level the new space is split into two with a catering wing, which is wrapped around the double-height studio. The floor above provides rehearsal spaces and a green room.

The studio has been designed as an adaptable rehearsal space that suits the needs of the theatre’s productions including dancers, actors and acrobats, who had previously relied on offsite facilities. The 14.3 x 10m studio has 4.1m high ceilings, a full-height mirror and curtain, natural light from skylights and a glimpse of the adjacent trees through a large framed window, which can be blacked out by integrated blinds. The studio also includes a sprung floor which has a harlequin vinyl finish with underfloor heating. The space is mechanically ventilated and cooled from ductwork at high level.

Axo

Axo

The kitchen facilities double the catering space which allows the theatre to broaden its food offer. The kitchen provides stations for five chefs and also includes a servery which can be quickly opened out pre-show on to the picnic lawn.

This is Reed Watts’ second project on the site, having completed backstage storage works last year. Future works, planned for next year, include landscape enhancements and modifications to some existing buildings to further improve the site.

Regent s Park Open Air Theatre Studios by Reed Watts Architects  Simon Kennedy 08

Regent s Park Open Air Theatre Studios by Reed Watts Architects Simon Kennedy 08

Source: Simon Kennedy

Architect’s view

We are incredibly proud to have completed our first major new building at the Open Air Theatre. Although the technical challenges have been numerous, we have managed to overcome them with a close knit team dedicated to delivering a building which respects the historical park setting while providing the theatre with much-needed space on its restricted site. The building is purposefully understated, but not apologetic. Beneath its crafted timber facade the building confidently allows the theatre to get on with its business without upsetting the balance of its unique setting.

Jim Reed, partner, Reed Watts Architects

Client’s view

Efficiently utilising every inch of the available footprint, the sense of scale when entering the building is impressive, and yet the design is sympathetic to the magical ambience of the Open Air Theatre. Realised with an acute understanding of the natural environment and the importance of our location in the heart of Regent’s Park, one might be forgiven for assuming that these new buildings have always been a feature of the theatre’s infrastructure.

William Village, executive director, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

I am so impressed with the building – it’s hard to believe how much Reed Watts has been able to fit into the space. The building is all but invisible and totally inaudible from Nannies Lawn, and sits in the park extremely sensitively in terms of materials as well as dimensions. Internally and externally the quality and materiality of the building is very satisfying.

Nick Biddle, manager, Regent’s Park

Regent s Park Open Air Theatre Studios by Reed Watts Architects  Simon Kennedy 10

Regent s Park Open Air Theatre Studios by Reed Watts Architects Simon Kennedy 10

Source: Simon Kennedy

Project data


Start on site October 2017 
Completion May 2018
Internal floor area 480m²
Form of procurement Traditional (JCT Intermediate)
Construction cost £1.7 million
Client Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Architect Reed Watts Architects
Project manager Stallworthy
Landscape architect Colvin & Moggeridge
Planning advisor Reed Watts Architects
Structural engineer Price & Myers
M&E consultant P3R
Quantity surveyor Bristow Johnson
Principal designer Reed Watts Architects
Acoustician Gillieron Scott
Ecology LUC
Arboriculture Canopy Consultancy
Main contractor GPF Lewis

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