RSC Courtyard Theatre

Ian Ritchie Architects, Stratford-upon-Avon, 2006


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A reproach to po-faced attitudes to building in historic centres 

Anthony Coleman (website)     Download Original

  • A reproach to po-faced attitudes  to building in historic centres    
  • Entry is via a 1980s workshop theatre designed by Michael Reardon    
  • The external aesthetic of rusting steel gives  an experimental ‘workshop’ feel    
  • Exterior Cor-ten steel    
  • The essence of simplicity    
  • Surrounding area    
  • The auditorium seating wraps intimately around the stage    
  • Henry VI set    
  • The Courtyard auditorium from side    
  • View from back of stage     
  • Theatre seating    
  • Upper foyer    
  • Site plan    
  • Plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • South elevation    
  • North elevation    
  • East elevation    
  • Service strategy for auditorium    
  • Sketches    
  • Sketches    
  • Sketches    
  • Sketches    
  • Sketches    
  • Sketches    
  • Sketches    
  • Sketches    
  • Duct Drop principle; metal and fabric     
  • IR etching courtyard theatre    
  • Duct Drop principle-metal and fabric     
  • Acoustic analysis    
  • Acoustic studies    
  • Acoustic studies    
  • Trucking Cor-ten panels    
  • Construction    
  • Construction    
  • Sketch of roof to meet acoustic requirements-1    
  • Sketch of wall to meet acoustic requirements    

A temporary theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), designed to be dismantled after four years

The theatre was designed so that the Royal Shakespeare Company could continue to put on performances while their main home, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, was being refurbished.

The Courtyard Theatre is 14m high with an envelope of a specially produced Cor-ten A sheet, made to look like sheet piling. Columns are braced and hidden inside the profiled metal and connected to roof trusses which support the roof and carry the lighting grid and access bridges. The external aesthetic of rusting steel is echoed indoors in balustrades of industrial metal, and by internal walls and seat-backs of raw plywood and a general feel of transience in the decor.

The building accommodates an audience of 1,050. The design developed largely as a response to the complaints about the existing Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the primary home of the RSC (adjacent to the Courtyard Theatre). The Courtyard seating surrounds the stage so that the audience can see the actors’ faces, read every nuance and hear every aside remark. The theatre has a thrust stage configuration.


  • Begun: Jun 2005
  • Completed: May 2006
  • Floor area: 3,570m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £5.7M
  • Tender date: Jun 2005
  • Procurement: 3 separate JCT with Contractors Design
  • Address: Royal Shakespeare Company, The Courtyard Theatre, Southern Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6BB, United Kingdom

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