Tara Theatre

Aedas Arts Team, London, 2016


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Front elevation 

Helene Binet     Download Original

  • Front elevation    
  • The design concept aimed to squeeze as much accommodation as possible into a very small envelope    
  • The theatre    
  • Lacquered oak floorboards    
  • The auditorium has a cob floor    
  • A tree motif is     
  • There is a window in the auditorium to provide natural light during rehearsals    
  • The space contains much Indian architectural salvage    
  • Brass-studded antique floors lead to the auditorium    
  • Ground floor    
  • First floor    
  • Second floor    
  • Third floor    
  • Embankment elevation    
  • Garratt Lane elevation    
  • Existing basement    
  • Existing ground floor    
  • Existing first floor    
  • Existing second floor    
  • Existing roof    
  • Existing cross section    
  • Existing front elevation    
  • Existing side elevation    
  • Detail section thorugh control room    

In the retrofit of the Tara Theatre in London, Victorian high street meets traditional India.

Conceptually, the building is a banyan tree growing up through a 19th-century commercial terrace; a tree in whose shade performances were traditionally carried out on the bare earth. Thus the stage is 50m2 of Jurassic Coast cob while a branching motif covers the exterior in window transfers and Sto render.

A solid-timber entrance door with an elaborate Indian lock (for decorative purposes only) leads directly into a combined front-of-house area with a ticket desk/bar to one side. The auditorium is straight ahead through a pair of brass-studded antique timber doors. So that stage rehearsals don’t mean days spent in perpetual darkness, a high-level window is provided, complete with sliding screen.

The basement below is back of house, with a secondary staircase leading to a trap in the corner of the stage, while above are three office floors contained within the rendered tower as it morphs into a domestic attic. Melamine kitchen workshops can feature at one end of the room; more carved Indian wooden doors at another.

At first-floor level is a small secondary rehearsal studio with the dimensions of a residential sitting room. The top, third floor, is reached via a spiral staircase running up past wall-mounted bookcases as the building becomes ever more homely.

Under BREEAM 2001 Bespoke, the theatre achieved Very Good status. Sustainable principles adopted through the building included the use of responsibly resourced materials, green roofs, photovoltaics, LED lighting, high performance U-values and thermographic surveys. 


  • Begun: Oct 2014
  • Completed: Apr 2016
  • Floor area: 493m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £2.9M
  • Procurement: Design and Build
  • Address: 356 Garratt Ln, London, SW18 4ES, United Kingdom

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