The Cut in Lambeth, South London is the cheerful agglomeration of mixed urban stock in which the Young Vic Theatre has thrived as a neighbourhood venue and as a nationally significant producing house for 35 years. Despite minimal comfort levels and theoretically unworkable public facilities, the original building was both groundbreaking and immediately loved. Originally designed by Bill Howell of Howell Killick Partridge and Amis, the ego-free working methodology, ad-hoc temporary aesthetic, use of the most basic materials, wonderfully proportioned auditorium and pioneering recycling of an ordinary Victorian shop as the public foyer became emblematic of the Young Vic’s identity and values – demotic, light-footed and classless. By the new millennium, an expanding artistic programme and decaying fabric made comprehensive redevelopment a necessity. The rebuild seeks to remain true to those values whilst radically expanding artistic capabilities. In doing so, the artistic team under director David Lan and architects have tried to address some of the recurring quandaries for theatre designers: the fact that many theatre artists feel alienated by new theatre architecture, particularly when existing, well-loved buildings have been replaced; that theatre re-builds often appear too resolved, too polished or too unyielding to adaptation by theatre makers – what seems problematic to the architect can be treasured by designers, actors and directors; that despite upgraded facilities, existing loyal audiences often feel over-managed or manipulated by new buildings in a way that previous, less well-appointed theatres avoided; and that the tension between requirements for permanent civic presence and more mutable theatricality can result in the sort of architectural identity crisis that prompted director Michael Eliot to ask “isn’t it time we stopped building for posterity?”. The design was developed through presentation, discussion and improvisation with theatre artists, local people and Young Vic staff. Transformation and provisionality were the key theatrical ideas on which the new design is founded. The project has been conceived as a connected group of distinct elements: the totemic butcher’s shop, locally significant as a wartime bomb survivor as well as the old foyer, has been salvaged, its familiar tiling and signage unsentimentally patched; the existing auditorium has been given an additional skin of hand-painted cement board panels (by artist collaborator Clem Crosby) and silver mesh held away from the painted surfaced and uplit, so that the transformation between the understated, working daytime and celebratory night-time modes is made explicit and the one-off, live activity inside alluded to; the new large studio theatre is texturally related to the auditorium by the use of a similarly scaled ‘weave’ of dark, profiled brick; and the public foyer is expressed as an informal, lightweight timber and steel structure that covers the resultant courtyard formed by the principal performance studio and the butchers shop which bracket the double height interior. Materials throughout the project are basic and the detailing informal, so that a provisional, low cost aesthetic prevails. The building is planned to allow many different patterns of use enabling a number of different possibilities for arrival, circulation and leave taking. The boundary between traditional front and back of house areas is permeable so that the sense of a working, creative environment pervades the whole interior. The original auditorium, proved to have three drawbacks: no actors’ or audience get-rounds, low working height and the lack of any recourse to another theatrical world beyond the symmetrical performance space. The auditorium retains much of the old fabric but adds a new layer of get-round and entrances, raises the height with a new lighting grid and provides a moveable wall and demountable gallery into the large new workshop so that an extended thrust stage can break the boundary of the octagonal room. Two adaptable performance and studio spaces, an enlarged foyer/cafe and more extensive working spaces complete the current scheme. Building on the successful opening of the theatre in October 2006, the Young Vic and Haworth Tompkins embarked on completing the project with the construction of The Jerwood Pod, a new facility in the northwest corner of the site. This provides space for the Young Vic’s associate companies as well as additional storage and dressing room facilities. This completes the development of the Young Vic site and the urban block of which it is part. The building was formerly opened by Alan Davies the Chief executive of the Arts Council of Great Britain on 5 June 2008.