Jonathan Tuckey Design has completed a new theatre in the grounds of Horris Hill School in Berkshire, England. Continuing the practice’s commitment to ‘building on the built’, the new theatre plays a vital role in repairing and enhancing the existing campus, its role within the community, and in expanding the arts and drama curriculum of the school.
Being at the forefront of its ambition, the theatre employs sustainable design and construction methods in a multitude of ways; the new building is constructed from cross laminated timber and finished internally with beech battens and panels, saving the release 40 tonnes of CO2 when compared to blockwork construction. Operationally the theatre integrates natural ventilation through its vents and louvres, and is naturally daylit from its windows and manually operated solid shutters.
Carefully crafted to sit in concert with the neighbouring buildings, the theatre draws from its surroundings by being consciously distinct in materiality and structure. However, the warm red hue of the Viroc panelling roots the theatre in among the earthy brick of the neighbouring Victorian buildings and more recent additions. The fins articulate a rhythm along its external faces and hint the cadence of Renaissance facades.
Drawing inspiration from Christine Boyer’s book The City of Collective Memory, the theatre realises itself as a stage set for everyday life and turns a former car park into an animated civic square. A tall portico structure announces the theatre from the main point of arrival to the north and activates the new civic square in front. It will be used as a billboard to announce theatre productions and function as both a formal and informal daily assembly space for pupils.