Sadler's Wells Theatre
The new Sadler's Wells is designed to attract international dance companies, create an arts training centre and provide community and education facilities. It features a 1,560 seat auditorium with a 15m by 15m stage and 80 seat orchestra pit. The auditorium is lined with metal gauze panels that take dramatically transforming light and image projection, uniting audience and performers. There are three foyer galleries with bars, plus rehearsal and teaching spaces.

Built on a site with a long history of theatre buildings, the new one fronts the main thoroughfare, as its predecessor did. Behind is the refurbished Lilian Bayliss Theatre, now the focus for the new Community & Education Centre.

Working with Nicholas Hare Architects, we developed the idea of using two enclosing walls as protection from the external environment. They are separated by a sheer glass pane on the front facade. The various elements that project from the structure are aligned with the axis of the auditorium within.

The main foyer is a single large tapering space containing a series of floating galleries. A row of columns at each level symbolizes the movement from outer more public areas to inner more intimate ones. Natural light floods the rear wall afternoons and evenings, making the front façade transparent.

In the auditorium, good sightlines to all four corners of the stage and the need to accommodate the acoustic demands of both live orchestral sound and recorded music were major requirements. The resulting space is a steeply raked, multi-tiered end-on auditorium with a 15m by 15m stage and 80 seat orchestra pit. Usually seating 1,560, it can be reconfigured to seat from 1,000 to 1,800. The stalls area can accommodate promenade or flat floor set-ups.

One of the most exciting things about the new auditorium is the possibility it provides for directors and designers to completely (and continually) change the ambience of the space through light and image projection onto the metal gauze panels that line the walls. This also enables the physical expansion of a production, uniting performers and audience in one space.
For even more flexibility, the screens are demountable and reveal gallery platforms usable either as staging or to provide boxes for an audience.
Other flexible elements include hinged panels in the wall screens for lighting, concealed acoustic devices adjustable to suit different types of music, an adjustable height proscenium and stalls seating rows moveable on air pallets.


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