Southbank, London


I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that architecture firm Haworth Tompkins had won this year’s Stirling Prize after their great renovation of the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. Plus some of you may have been wondering what this huge red structure was, adjoined to the National Theatre, in my last post and it just so turns out that Haworth Tompkins installed it.

The bright red auditorium, coined “The Shed”, is clad entirely with wooden boards with no windows or doors, referencing the board-formed concrete of Denys Lasdun’s highly recognised, 1970’s brutalist structure. It has a startling yet enigmatic presence, and I guess in many ways Haworth Tompkins wanted the monolithic structure to almost appear as the Theatre’s opposite - even with similarities such as the cascading towers and wrap-around effect.

Four chimneys jut out from the corners of the structure and use a stack-effect system of natural ventilation – these chimneys were planned to mimic the architecture of the theatre, along with the angular geometry of its neighbour’s facade. Reclaimed chairs provide all of the seating inside the building, while recycled materials were used for all of the cladding.
The Shed was initially installed to fill the gap created by the closure of the Cottseloe Theatre in 2013, highlighting the popularity of temporary creative spaces and the need for the public’s exploration and use of them. It’s temporary nature, building on Haworth Tompkins “temporary” portfolio with previous projects such as the Almeida Theatre, allows the structure to be seen more as an arts space than a building and also represents their keenness to figure out sustainable ways of making theatres.

And, even though the National Theatre have had to remove the title of “The Shed” due to trademark rules, it will still stand there on the riverside and bewilder.