- 02 July 2009
During recent months the structural steelwork has been completed. It forms the colonnade that links the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) and Swan auditoria on the town side of the building; the new dressing room block by the River Avon and the framework of the new roof that oversails the restaurant (with its views of the Bancroft Gardens and the river). Within the building, more steelwork has been erected to form the gallery, circle and technical spaces of the new auditorium.
Following on from the steel skeleton, the next task has been the formation of the outer skin or ‘cladding’ of the new building, starting with the roofs and zinc clad drum of the upper part of the new auditorium and progressing downwards to the glass window walls. The windows and doors of the dressing rooms, leading on to the balconied riverside façade, are complete, as are the windows to the corresponding accommodation on the town side of the building. Cladding work focuses on the restaurant at present, and the colonnade glazing will follow.
Completing the skin and thereby making the building weathertight has enabled the internal construction work to commence. The first phase of the timber joinery works is complete and the formation of the internal walls is now well under way. Following on from these internal building works, the mechanical and electrical engineering systems – the pipes, air ducts and wires that will make the building function – are being installed throughout.
Inside the new auditorium, a separate sub-project is under way: following on from its steel structure, the timber and steel staging upon which the new seats will be located are being constructed, the higher technical levels of the flytower and new RST have been painted and about 20% of the complex stage electrical installation is done.
Meanwhile the work to restore the remaining brick walls and windows of Scott’s original Bancroft and riverside facades continues, as does the laying of the structural brickwork of the outer walls of the new tower which will eventually reach the height of the inner concrete lift shaft that some have mistakenly assumed is the tower itself. The steel framework at the top of the shaft provides guide wires to enable the bricklayers to follow accurately the tapering shape of the tower. Later on in the year the glass and steel ‘lantern’ of the observation platform will be lifted onto the top of the tower. The ‘lantern’ is being constructed at ground level between the site offices and the theatre and the top of its steel framework is now visible over the site hoardings.
Between now and the end of September this year we expect to complete the outer envelope of the building, whilst work continues inside, including the stage engineering in the flytower and stage basements. One particular task will be the temporary removal for repair and restoration of the old spiral backstage staircase which will then be reinstalled as before within the flytower of Scott’s original theatre.