04.12.08 Topping out ceremony
A milestone was commemorated today as the structure of the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre reached its highest point.
26.11.08 Topping out on the horizon
On site, the construction of the concrete lift shaft which reaches up to viewing platform level of the new tower. The structural brickwork that surrounds it will take much longer and it will be early spring before the final shape of the tower begins to become apparent above the hoardings.
The pumps that kept ground water at bay whilst the new thrust stage basement was constructed have been turned off. Billingtons continue to erect the steelwork.
One of the final areas of concrete to be completed will be up on the roof of the new thrust flying zone. This will be used for our topping out ceremony next week.
22.10.08 Two new trade contractors
Two new trade contractors have begun work on the site. The first, KLH, are installing timber floor decks for the new steel structures and are working on the riverside. The second, Stage Electrics, are removing old cabling and trunking in the basement of the Swan Theatre.
15.10.08 Tower lift shaft
The first level of the tower lift shaft is now protruding above the hoardings. This will be constructed level by level over the next few weeks then the exterior of the tower will be constructed around it.
08.10.08 Project celebrated as exemplary new way to rescue heritage
In a new book launched this week English Heritage has championed the Royal Shakespeare Theatre transformation as one of England’s 20 best development schemes in historic places. The book, Constructive Conservation in Practice reveals the excellent schemes that demonstrate "Constructive Conservation": a new way of rescuing heritage as part of regeneration.
24.09.08 Large mobile cranes
A large mobile crane has arrived which is putting together the prefabricated sections of the giant roof trusses that will span the new thrust stage. They are strong enough to bear the load of theatre equipment and scenery and - once assembled - will be lifted into place by an even larger crane.
27.08.08 Riverside superstructure reaches full height
The concrete superstructure of the shell of the new thrust stage auditorium for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre reaches its full height on the riverside of the site.
13.08.08 Making an opening in the brick wall of the stage left wing
DSM, the demolition contractor has returned to make the opening in the stage left wing wall which will become the get-in door for the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
06.08.08 The new basement
The sealing of the ground around the new basement that is to be excavated has now been completed and excavation work is now under way in the area of the old orchestra pit.
30.07.08 Excavation of the basement
Very wet conditions have meant that special means are needed to exclude the underground water from the area. This is being done this week by using a special rig to inject sealing materials into the ground surrounding the piling that was installed earlier this year to form the new basement's outer wall.
Work on the concrete substructure and superstructure
16.07.08 Concrete elements visible over the hoardings
John Doyle's work on the concrete elements of the new thrust stage auditorium has reached the town side of the building and the concrete walls and cores and columns are now visible over the hoardings from the street.
09.07.08 Preparations for the new basement
Preparations for the new basement continue with the sinking of wells to help reduce levels of water within the excavations.
Once more the week's activity on site is a continuation of existing tasks. John Doyle's work on the concrete elements of the new thrust stage auditorium is gradually working round from the river side of the building to the town side.
02.07.08 Getting ready for Site Sunday
There's a good deal of preparation for our open day "Site Sunday" this coming weekend to ensure that visitors can access the site safely and comfortably.
This is a unique moment in the construction process when the work is not so intense and the site is not too crowded with the apparatus of construction.
25.06.08 Departure of DSM
The departure of the large yellow mobile crane will herald the end of the demolition works and the departure of DSM, our demolition contractor who have been with us throughout our first year on site.
13.06.08 Foundations continue
The foundations are now being concreted in several areas of the auditorium and new construction is beginning to be visible above ground level for the first time.
Excavation work continunes and the remaining excavated material is being stored for use as site fill material around the new foundations and excavations.
Both tower cranes are now operational, lifting equipment and concrete for the construction into the centre of the site.
28.05.08 Excavation work
The excavation work, including a new 7 metre deep sub-stage basement, has begun with the excavation for the west core of the new theatre.
The mounds of material dug out from these works are now visible above the hoardings.
21.05.08 Piling works completed
The completion of the piling works by Cementation is a major project milestone.
John Doyles, the concrete works trade contractor is hard at work in the auditorium, commencing work on the pile caps that sit on top of the deep piles provided by Cementation.
14.05.08 The first crane arrives
The first tower crane is now complete and operational. Meanwhile the waterproof piling works that will form the outer walls of the basement under the new RST's thrust stage are almost complete and the piling for the foundations of the tower are already complete.
Generally groundworks around the site are continuing at a pace (new drains and foundations) in readiness for the arrival of the concrete and steel contractors who will begin to construct the buildings superstructure in the coming months.
30.04.08 DSM demobilise their plant
DSM, our demolition contractors, have begun to demobilise their plant, amongst the last pieces of work have been the creation of a base for piling by the Swan, and the completion of demolition work to the backstage lift.
Piling work by Cementation continues: work on both the auditorium and the riverside dressing room block has passed the halfway stage. Piling for the second tower crane, at the Theatre Gardens end of the site has been completed.
John Doyle, the concrete works contractor, has constructed the base for the first tower crane, at the Bancroft end of the site and will start work on the second crane's base this week.
02.04.08 Work continues behind the hoardings
Progress on site is barely visible from outside of the hoardings as piling work continues.
05.03.08 Bat boxes arrive
A number of bat boxes are installed under the supervision of our environmental consultants.
27.02.08 Piling contractor moves on siteThe unexpectedly thick concrete found beneath the orchestra pit was removed. This week sees the beginning of a new phase of the project with the arrival of the piling contractor, Cementation, and their large plant and equipment.
20.02.08 Flood compensation works completed
Flood compensation works in The Dell are completed. The area has been sown with a mixture of grass and wildflower seeds and will remain fenced off whilst the new seeds germinate and establish themselves.
13.02.08 Fly tower roof demolished
Preparations are made for the demolition of the fly tower roof and for the demolition of the stage door and of the block between the Swan auditorium and the Swan Library building to the south of the stage wing.
06.02.08 Reclaimed bricks
Demolition of the riverside dressing room block is completed with over 6,000 bricks reclaimed which will be used for restoration work elsewhere.
09.01.08 Test piling begins
New hoardings are erected to the Southern end of the site (Swan Theatre side) and a new path joins Waterside to the riverside walk in Theatre Gardens. The test pile is under test and monitored by our engineers, Buro Happold.
Work begins on the reprofiling of The Dell to provide the flood compensation volumes required. The project archaeologist observes the work.
19.12.07 Stage machinery removed
The old stage machinery is removed with some parts of the machinery being retained for potential architectural uses at the request of the project architect, Bennetts Associates.
Cementation, who will provide the new foundations for the building, commence test piling.
05.12.07 Demolition work continues
Demolition work continues as planned with the removal of the remaining auditorium balcony. Over the coming week, demolition works will progress in several areas: the dressing room block stair, the upper section of the eastern auditorium wall will be taken down and remaining auditorium steelwork will be removed.
On the Chapel Lane site sample sections of the tower and auditorium drum brickwork are being erected for evaluation to help the Project team to agree a choice of brick type, pattern of brick bonding and colour of mortar. The final choice will be submitted for approval by Stratford District Council.
15.11.07 Rubble clearing
Rubble clearance from the old auditorium begins. The rubble is sorted into different piles ready for recycling.
05.11.07 Roof trusses removed
The 5 tonne, 2 metre deep roof trusses are removed from the building. This deconstruction work is one of the most complex aspects of this phase of the project. Two large mobile cranes are used - one to support the men cutting the trusses from their suspended bearing and the other to lift the trusses from their positions. Once removed the trusses were laid on the floor in front of the theatre.
Once removed, demolition of the inner theatre walls and the old proscenium arch auditorium could be completed.
04.10.07 Demolition work begins
DSM, demolition contractors, began work on site with the significant demolition work on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The façade of the theatre on Waterside (the road) began to come down providing large scale access to the heart of the building. This is where the new auditorium will be inserted.
Deconstruction work of the additions to the building on the riverfront also began. This work revealed the original wall of the 1932 Elisabeth Scott building. This will once again become the external wall of the building and form part of the riverside walk, which will run from the Clopton Bridge to Holy Trinity Church. The decorative brick façade, that was only visible for a few years, will be restored. The dismantling work is painstaking and executed largely by hand.
17.09.07 Revised designs to the Theatre Tower submitted
Planning application submitted to Stratford District Council for revised designs to the Theatre Tower and riverside block.
The revised plans show the relocation of the second new lift which serves the theatre into the existing Scott building, adjacent to the location of the old Balcony Stair. This means the tower is more slender and designs to the top have been refined. In addition, the small windows can be opened in warm weather.
Changes to the new block of dressing rooms and new stage door on the riverside elevation have been made to relocate some internal stairs within the block. This means that a new rhythm of columns and balconies, relating more closely to the detailing of the original 1932 Scott façade, have been created. This will be visible for the first time in seventy years. A staircase at the stage door end of the building has also been eliminated so we can create balconies overlooking the Theatre Gardens for the music room and a large dressing room.
30.04.07 RST begins its transformation
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre starts its transformation, with soft stripping of small items starting on Monday 30 April, after the RSC Open Day. All the work has been scheduled to generate as little noise and dust as possible while the Swan Theatre continues with its summer programme.
19.04.07 First stage of planning permission
Stratford District Council grants first stage of planning permission click here for further details.
31.03.07 Final performance in the RST
Michael Boyd joined the cast of Coriolanus on the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre after the final performance on the 31 March.
12.03.07 Design alterations submitted
Following consultation during the planning process, the RSC submits design alterations to the top section of the Theatre Tower. The changes involve adapting some materials and refining some of the designelements around the platform of the Tower.
Click here to see the revised plans on Stratford District Council website.
14.12.06 Planning application submitted
The RSC submitted a planning application for the transformation of its theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon to the local authority, Stratford-on-Avon District Council in December 2006.
Since outline sketches for the project were published in June 2006, revisions have been made to the roof and the new tower. The revised design accommodates a larger roof that floats dramatically over the retained Art Deco façade and then extends south to wrap around the existing flytower and backstage wings. The new auditorium roof reflects the faceted nature of the theatre below.
Revisions to the design of the 35 metre tall tower have resulted in the creation of an insulated and waterproofed viewing room within the walls of the tower offering views over the town and the river. Above the viewing room an open-air cantilevering viewing platform, which opens out to reveal expansive views across Stratford and the surrounding countryside. Three brick walls that taper and twist towards the top of the tower contain the inner steel structure, the stairs and lifts.
09.08.06 The Courtyard Theatre opensBuilt in 11 months and with a £6 million budget the temporary Courtyard Theatre officially opened with the press day for the Henry VI trilogy. Commentators referred to the theatre as ‘magnificent’ in their reviews for the productions.
24.08.06 Chapel Lane site given the green light
The West Area Planning Committee met to consider the application for the Chapel Lane site, an integral part of the wider transformation of the RSC’s Stratford home. Councillors voted in favour of the application which will see a multi-purpose office, workshop and education space developed for the theatre on the existing site of the Union Club.
14.06.06 Outline designs announced for the wider scheme
The Royal Institute of British Architects was the venue for the launch of the outline designs. Architects, Bennetts Associates presented the scheme which aims to marry the best of the past with new elements to the 1932 Royal Shakespeare Theatre and its surrounding site. The design team went on to work on final designs ready for the submission of the planning application.
As part of the announcement it was revealed that 85% of the money towards the project had also been raised.
14.05.06 Consultation day for residents and public
180 people joined the project team to discuss the current scheme and feedback on the outline designs for the project. The findings were fed into the design process as the architects worked on more detailed designs for the theatre and surrounding site.
01.01.06 Construction starts inside Courtyard Theatre
The contractors move inside the shell of the Courtyard Theatre to begin the construction of the interior front of house facilities, auditorium and backstage areas. The Design Team continue to develop outline designs for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre site.
01.12.05 Charcoalblue Appointed
Theatre consultants Charcoalblue were appointed to work with the RSC to develop the auditorium for the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This young company, developed in 2004, has been working with the RSC on the development of the auditorium for the temporary Courtyard Theatre which will be the RSC’s main performance space whilst building work begins on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre site.
01.10.05 Feasibility study published
Signalling the way forward for the transformation of the RSC’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The study addressed the principal opportunities and challenges with the site and was used to inform the development of outline designs.
Key elements of the study included:
- The RSC’s aspirations can be met through using the entire site, including the Union Club and existing workshops and offices between Waterside and Chapel Lane.
- The proposed thrust-stage auditorium can be accommodated between the existing fly-tower and Art Deco foyers.
- New foyer and other audience facilities can be accommodated by adapting the building on the western side of the current Royal Shakespeare Theatre, adjacent to Waterside.
- The architecturally significant exterior and interior features can be preserved and enhanced.
01.06.05 RSC Community Forum
RSC Community Forum is formed to help to shape the consultation for the project. The Forum is chaired by Sir Brian Follet and has over 30 members.
01.05.05 Work starts on theatre
Work begins on the construction of the Courtyard Theatre, the RSC’s temporary theatre.
The RSC’s intention has always been to perform in Stratford during the work on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in order to safeguard the £57 million the Company contributes to the regional economy each year. The new building will incorporate a new 1,000 seat auditorium, while the existing Other Place auditorium will house the theatre's foyer space, cloakroom, bar areas, dressing room and rehearsal space.
01.04.05 Architects announced
Bennetts Associates are announced as architects for the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and surrounding site.
RSC Artistic Director, Michael Boyd, explained why they were chosen:
“Bennetts Associates proved they clearly understood our responsibilities as a local, regional, national and international theatre company – and the challenges of marrying the wide range of architectural styles on and surrounding our site. Their style of working means this will be a collaborative and creative journey. That’s going to be critical as we involve more of our stakeholders in the project.”
15.04.05 Consultation process begins
Consultation process begins to gather ideas and opinions from residents, audiences, visitors and businesses on what they would like from the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
The sessions explored attitudes and opinions towards the RSC and its initial plans to transform the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and surrounding site. The research showed overwhelming support for the need to change the current Royal Shakespeare Theatre, acknowledging the many shortcomings of the current building and the importance of the RSC to the region.
01.12.04 Application submitted
Planning application submitted for the development of the temporary Courtyard Theatre on the site of the RSC’s studio theatre, The Other Place. The theatre will provide extra performance space for the Complete Works Festival and will become the Company’s main performance space when building work begins on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre site.
01.09.04 Thrust stage announced
The RSC announced its intention to create a thrust stage within the existing 1932 Royal Shakespeare Theatre, retaining the key Art Deco elements of the building.
English Heritage outline their support for the project.
Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage said:
“The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is an iconic building and draws audiences and actors from around the world. It has long been acknowledged that the theatre has many shortcomings and fails to meet the expectations of today’s increasingly sophisticated audiences.
We believe there is great scope for upgrading the historic building while maintaining its special character. We look forward to working closely with the RSC and their development team to create a first class 21st century home for Shakespearean theatre in Stratford.”