The Shed is a new, temporary and recyclable theatre

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What a brilliant splash of red this new temporary theatre makes. Called The Shed, it is being opened as part of London's National Theatre and is just going to be there for a year as renovations of the main space take place.

No doubt it will take longer, as renovations always do, but in recognition of its one-year lifespan the National is trying to ensure that the space is as low-energy, sustainable and recyclable as possible.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Set against a concrete backdrop, The Shed has been designed and built in less than a year because work could not begin on the old theatre until the new one was ready for operation. It's more a theatre set than a conventional building.

It was constructed out of materials that can easily be reused (steel, plywood etc). The steelwork was left unpainted so that it can easily be recycled.

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The National Theatre and architects Haworth Tompkins explored the possibility of designing a building that could be fully re-used but decided the extra construction cost, and transport costs for a moveable building, couldn't be justified. It was better to make it out of recyclable components.

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The Shed has been designed to use as little energy as possible, and is connected to the National Theatre’s Combined Heat & Power Plant (which generates heat from waste exhaust). It's naturally ventilated, which is the reason for the shape of the four corner towers. Their stack effect draws air in naturally from under the seats to avoid mechanical ventilation.

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Inside it is a three sided area, with a small fixed balcony and flexible seating. The sustainable design makes use of natural ventilation, and LED theatre lighting fixtures. Wherever possible, components from elsewhere have been re-used. For example, the stage floor and galleries are made from reusable modular panels. The seating and lighting have been taken from the original theatre which is being refurbished. The lobby furniture will be props from plays.

If you are interested in learning about new trends in theatre architecture and how it has evolved and changed over the last 50 years, there is a lecture on October 1, 2013.

Tags: Architecture | Buildings | London | Recycled Building Materials