Vox pop

A figure of £250m was quoted last week as the amount required to keep London’s theatres up to scratch. Given that many of them are listed buildings, how could design help?

‘Most London theatres have lovely front-of-house and auditoriums that simply require restoration. Back-of-house, however, usually needs radical upgrading. Designers should ask, “Are your flies undone?”, court thespian and backstage popularity, but expect public anonymity.’

Piers Gough, Architect, CZWG Architects

‘I agree with the need of refurbishment to the basic buildings’ fabric, but the fact that theatres are old listed buildings is the least of their problems. Their age is part of their charm. Design could play a strong part in bringing them to life without being reverential to tradition. The problem lies in the lack of design vision and peripheral thinking of the theatre owners and producers.’

Carlos Virgile, Joint managing director, Virgile and Stone Associates

‘Clever use of space to enable leg room. Architectural/ atmosphere-enhancing lighting and a smattering of modern, light refreshment areas to escape from the dour colours. Finally, some contemporary theatre glasses that actually have some magnifying effect.’

Nik Roope, Co-creative director, Poke

‘Many of these theatres were built during the period that coincided with the emergence of the modern movement in architecture. Peel away the escapist decor, add a good dose of collective human experience and you will begin to discover some of the subtlety, skill and spatial understanding that went into creating these marvellous spaces.’

Mark Foley, Principal, Burrell Foley Fischer LLP

‘The theeeeatre, the theeeeatre… as Danny Kaye once said, cannot survive unless it’s fully supported and subsidised. Saying that, it really needs to take a close look at how other art forms, in particular the visual arts, have repositioned themselves within the public eye.’

Neil Walker, Creative partner, CDT Design

‘Design should be a fundamental part of any refurbishment programme. All internal and external elements should match the finest contemporary refurbishments in Europe. Care and understanding of context and detail that respects heritage without resorting to pastiche.’

David Chaloner, Creative director, Conran Design Group

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