“The Yard: a little bastion of everything theatre’s supposed to be, in the exact spot that a theatre shouldn’t be.” - Time Out Magazine
The Yard is a multi-award winning theatre and music venue in Hackney Wick, East London. In 2011 Christopher Daniel & Practice Architecture collaborated to design & build a 110-seat theatre in a disused warehouse in what was then a quiet industrial park. In the years since then the Olympics have come and gone and the Yard has evolved to become one of London's most exciting venues at the centre of a thriving cultural district.
“The Yard is a fantastic new venue. It gives young artists the kind of opportunities that can transform their careers. And it gives its audiences a wonderful night out. It feels like the future.” - Nick Hytner, former Artistic Director, National Theatre
Location, Hackney Wick, London, UK Type: theatre; bar; nightclub; community build Team: Polysemic; Practice Architecture; volunteers Photography:Peter Landers; Andy Matthews
Volunteers: Jack Abraham; Daisy Addison; Michael Begent; Oliver Cronk; Mathew Cunningham; Christopher Daniel; Paloma Gormley; Andrew Dickens; Dom Dickens; Matthew Drage; Lettice Drake; Lizzie Drake; Tansy Drake; Tim Drake; Lyndon Harrison; Matt Huspith; Tarek Iskander; Jake Lomas; Kenneth Luk; Dave Marsden; Dash May; Jay Miller, Oskar Proctor; Henry Stringer; Greg Tyldesley; Grace Walker; Olga Winterbottom
Rising Sun is a large scale light and sound installation that comes to life as the real sun sets.
Using highly reflective materials, search lights and multichannel surround sound, the piece conveys the unbridled power of nuclear fusion taking place at the heart of the sun.
Designed in collaboration with artist William Simpson, Rising Sun was made by Polysemic at Machines Room in London.
Location, Bournemouth, UK (2017); Liverpool, UK (2018) Type: Art Installation Creative Direction: William Simpson Sound Artist: Toby Wiltshire Production Design: Polysemic Structural Engineering: Corbett & Tasker Audio Visual Technical Manager: Karl Bock Photography: Peter Landers Producer: Roxy Robinson
The Old Vic
Bespoke 200-seat temporary theatre in a central London park.
The Old Vic Community Company is London's largest inclusive community theatre company and is a major part of the Old Vic New Voices programme at the Old Vic.
In 2016 Christopher Daniel & the Collective Works team designed a 200-seat venue for "Rise", a new play by Deirdre Kinahan written specifically for the 200 volunteers of the Community Company.
The theatre was built in just seven days on Waterloo Millennium Green in South London. In order to deliver the scheme on such a tight timeframe and on such a challenging site, the design was carefully tailored to make use of professional event and theatre professionals and the enthusiasm and efforts of the Community Company itself.
A floating stage in the form of a giant lilypad, roaming around the swimming lake at a festival in Oxfordshire.
As part of Wilderness festival in 2014, Secret Productions (now MAMA Festivals) asked Architecture for Humanity UK to build something special and come to the festival to talk about their work. AfH UK decided to work with the Ecohouse Initiative and students from Cambridge University department of engineering to design and build a giant plywood 'lilypad'.
This was then used as a bathing platform in the swimming lake, as a floating stage during the Saturday night procession by Macnas and as part of photoshoots by Prangsta Costumiers.
Throughout the weekend the lilypad provided a platform (both literal and metaphorical) through which both charities could conduct outreach work.
Location: Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, UK Type: Floating stage Team: Architecture for Humanity UK; EcoHouse Initiative; volunteers Status: Completed
Volunteers: Oliver Beardon; Iona Campbell; Christopher Daniel; Kat Davis; Alasdair Ben Dixon; Max Eyre; Tom Green; Becky Howard; Monica Landivar; Cameo Musgrave; Zoe Powell; Frank Siepmann; Matt Smith; Rich Strange; Matt Taylor; Rion Willard; Michael Zhao
Feasibility study and bespoke seating unit design resulting in vastly improved turnaround times and programming flexibility for a world class performance venue.
The Roundhouse in Camden, north London is a renowned and respected venue for music, circus and theatre. Following their work on the building’s restoration in 2006, Charcoalblue were invited back to conduct a feasibility study on replacing the seating seating systems within the venue.
As a result of this study, an new innovative retractable seating system was designed and installed in collaboration with Hussey Seatway. The new system reduces turnaround times between seating configurations from 4 days to just 4 hours.
The balcony level is an important part of the venue's commercial strategy. It is used as a self-contained area for corporate hires in flat floor mode; as a standing audience area for gigs; and as a seating area linked to both standing and seated events in the main auditorium.
The new balcony seating system is created from 24 retractable seating units and peripherals that are deployed around the balcony to create a 180-degree audience zone of 506 seats for concerts & theatrical shows. When retracted for storage, the units can be moved on their integral wheels to the opposite end of the balcony, leaving a large clear area for functions and other hires of the balcony space. On occasions where the entire 360-degree balcony is required for specific event, the units can be forklifted from the circle to the floor level, and stored within the main auditorium or in external storage containers outside the building.
Location: Camden, London, UK Type: retractable seating; multipurpose venue; concert venue; theatre Team: Charcoalblue, Hussey Seatway Status: Phase One Completed; Phase Two Ongoing
Roots Architecture Workshop
A bicycle-powered festival open mic stage built from recycled materials by a volunteer team.
Architecture For Humanity UK were asked to provide an open mic stage that would be the first performance space encountered by the public as they approached the main site from their campgrounds. The stage formed an old fashioned television set, with audience seated on a giant coffee table and pair of armchairs.
Constructed over the course of a few days by a volunteer team entirely from a variety of previously unseen recycled materials, the project as an exercise in on-the-spot design and collaboration.
Location: Charlton Park, Wiltshire, UK Type: Bicycle-powered open mic stage Team: Architecture for Humanity UK; Tangentfield; Momentum; volunteers Status: Completed
Volunteers: Dale Abrahamson; Arome Agamah; Andrada Butnaru; Tammy Crawford-Rolt; Christopher Daniel; Alasdair Ben Dixon; Peter Dowling; Tom Green; Isabel Hankart; Monica Landivar; Andy Lockwood; Katherine McNeil; Ana-Laura Mohirta; Cameo Musgrave; Samuel Pew Latter; Zoe Powell; Patricia Rosario
UWC Dilijan Black Box
A highly-flexible 200-seat performance space on a remote site in rural Armenia.
The first phase of the UWC Dilijan masterplan opened to an initial cohort of 200 students in 2014. The "Black Box" is their main performance space until the PAC opens as part of phase two. Nestled amongst the boarding houses at the top end of the school campus, the Black Box is a highly functional space that serves as a theatre, a cinema, a lecture hall, an exam room, a rehearsal space and a music venue for the student body.
After the external envelope had been designed in Armenia, the technical facilities were designed and constructed in the UK before being shipped to Dilijan and installed by a combined team of Armenian construction workers and British theatre specialists.
The theatre is understood to be the first flexible performance space constructed in Armenia and is certainly the most technologically advanced venue in the country.
Location: Dilijan, Armenia Type: Flexible theatre; retractable seating; school theatre; design & build Team: Tim Flynn Architects, Polysemic, Stage Technologies
The graffiti is almost correct, but not quite. This site just off Curtain Road in Shoreditch, East London was the site of "The Theatre". The misunderstanding comes because it is believed that following a business disagreement (and a temporary move to the neighbouring Curtain Theatre), the timbers from The Theatre were later spirited across the Thames in the dead of night in order to build The Globe Theatre in Southwark. The Theatre in Shoreditch, however, was where many of William Shakespeare's works including "Romeo & Juliet" were first performed.
Gallus Studio has a long-term relationship with the site and the charitable trust that owns it. In 2015 Christopher Daniel was brought in along with Fisher Dachs of New York to develop a scheme for a "neo-Elizabethan" theatre space that would suit traditionally-staged Shakespearean performance while also accommodating touring productions across a range of other art forms.
The programme for this tight urban site proposes a theatre at ground level with carefully designed high end residential units above. Challenges for the scheme include the relationship between a working theatre, its neighbouring residents (including overhead) and the globally important archaeological remains in the ground below.
Location: Shoreditch, London, UK Type: Thrust stage theatre; residential units; bar; restaurant; museum; mixed-use development Team: Gallus Studio; Fisher Dachs
The Hippodrome, Leicester Square
A new cabaret venue created to allow a continuation of live performance in the stagehouse of Frank Matcham's Grade II-listed London Hippodrome on Leicester Square.
The Hippodrome was built in 1900 and featured both a proscenium stage and an arena for aquatic spectacles with eight central fountains and a circle of fountains around the side. Shows included equestrian acts, elephants and polar bears, and acrobats would dive from a Minstrel Gallery above a sliding roof. Since then, the theatre has been reborn in may different forms including a cabaret venue, a nightclub and a circus space. The latest incarnation is the Hippodrome Casino and Entertainment Venue. The original Matcham-designed auditorium is now a combination of gaming and restaurant facilities.
Charcoalblue joined the project in order to turn the existing stagehouse into the Matcham Room. The form of the historic building led to the creation of a uniquely intimate multi-functional venue. The balcony and rear of the stalls consist of custom-designed seating units. The main floor area is open to a wide variety of loose seating layouts and includes a stage lift that can be lowered to meet the surrounding floor level.
The Matcham Room at the Hippodrome Casino opened to the public in 2012.