ROYAL COURT THEATRELiverpool 2009
Royal Court Theatre
Partner in Charge / Design Principal: Robin Lee
The firm was runner up in the invited competition to redevelop the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. Trustee of the newly formed Royal Court Liverpool Trust and Chief Executive of Urban Splash, Jonathan Falkingham described the submission as 'a superb and very close second to Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.'
The proposal envisaged The Royal Court not as a stand-alone building but as an integral part of the composition of adjacent buildings and associated public spaces, monuments and gateways in this developing part of Liverpool.
The idea of the canopy attached to the front elevation of the theatre has a long and rich history in Europe and the United States. While its origins may have been functional providing shelter from weather to patrons dressed in fine clothes, it has since acquired significance more symbolic than utilitarian. For the canopy succinctly expresses the idea of gathering and of collective experience, it is clearly not about the individual experience but the shared. Spatially it draws people toward the building edge and entrance providing the first of many thresholds the patron encounters en-route from the city to the magical world of the auditorium. In this way the spatial engagement with the space beneath the canopy is synonymous with sensations of anticipation, expectation and awe.
We addressed the need to communicate with the street in a clear and direct manner and configured the foyer to allow it to open up effortlessly and guide patrons quickly and efficiently to their destination. We proposed glazed entrance doors with adjacent solid panels of polished brass to clearly mark the entrance. A motorised rolling shutter was designed to screen off the entrance doors giving the frontage a mute appearance between shows. The ritual of opening and closing the theatre entrance bears clear relationship with ritual of the stage curtain opening and closing a performance.
A large signage piece was proposed as an element detached from the building itself, like an oversized piece of street furniture or a stand-alone sculpture. This is proposed as homage to the grand theatre signs of the 20's and 30's.
© Robin Lee Architecture 2012
NORD LLP reached the final shortlist in the invited design competition for Royal Court Theatre in December 2008
NORD LLP was established in 2002
NORD LLP renamed to Robin Lee Architecture in 2011