National Theatre of Scotland

Hoskins Architects, Glasgow, 2016


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The building has an industrial aesthetic 

Gillian Hayes     Download Original

  • The building has an industrial aesthetic    
  • The building sits in canalside surroundings    
  • The building is clad in grey    
  • The decision to redevelop a previously disused industrial warehouse was in keeping with the desire for producing a ‘hard-working’ building    
  • The polished concrete ground floor    
  • Open-plan office    
  • Looking across the atrium    
  • The production office    
  • Rehearsal space 1    
  • Costume workshop    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Section AA    
  • Cross section    
  • South elevation    
  • Facade detail section    

The National Theatre of Scotland is fuelling the regeneration of a previously neglected area, which is fast becoming the city’s cultural quarter.

Sinusoidal aluminium panels are carefully orchestrated in horizontal bands to produce, according to Hoskins, a ‘composed and calm façade’ that ‘maintains an industrial aesthetic in keeping with the history of the site’.

The building primarily faces south and fronts onto a public path alongside the canal. It sits on land owned by Scottish Canals and occupies the footprint of a derelict cash and carry warehouse. The steel portal frame structure of the warehouse was retained for the new building. This reduced its cost and the existing warehouse structure has provided large, flexible spaces required for rehearsal, set-building, storage, and costume-making. Hoskins added a secondary steel structure internally that creates an additional first floor for administration and management offices. 

Although fronting onto a public path, the building itself is not accessible to the public. The ground-floor rehearsal rooms, set-making, and support spaces are accessed from a light-filled reception lobby through secure doors. Rehearsal Space 1 makes effective use of the substantial span of the portal frame to set out the largest rehearsal space in Scotland, capable of recreating any of the country’s theatre stages. Through an adjoining wall there is a technical workshop, where set designs are made. The remainder of the ground floor houses two smaller rehearsal rooms, a costume store and workshop, kitchens, toilets and a community room. 

Access to the first-floor workspace, board rooms and management offices are through the social space and there is a staircase with a mild steel balustrade and polished stainless steel handrail. The raised floor is finished with solid timber, saved from various school gymnasia in Glasgow and specified by the architect.

The building is air-conditioned but has a few opening windows and a small open balcony on the first floor that looks out over water. The requirement for rehearsal rooms and workshops to be situated in close proximity to offices and other workspaces meant that the building had to be heavily sound-insulated and the abundance of service pipes visible throughout the interior contributes significantly to the no-frills ambience.  

Bringing together previously disparate departments was key to the design of Rockvilla. The decision to redevelop a previously disused industrial warehouse was in keeping with the desire for producing a ‘hard-working’ building. The new facility creates an open atmosphere, stimulating a collaborative working environment in which the theatre company can thrive. 

The façade is arranged in four bands of profiled aluminium cladding, reinforced by continuous horizontal flashing details. The horizontal bands serve to control the arrangement and composition of the external openings: windows, entrance, café doors, and first floor terrace. The material palette for the façade is minimal, comprising PPC sinusoidal aluminium cladding, both solid and perforated, and deep aluminium window reveals to the fixed windows and doors. 

The south façade is the boundary between public and private and therefore needed to be secure and robust. Large, fixed windows and doors have concealed shutters for security, while all opening windows are screened by perforated cladding. The arrangement of the perforated cladding across the front of the openable windows allows the rehearsal space to be naturally ventilated (with openable rooflights facilitating airflow) and gives views out, while retaining a degree of security and privacy and providing solar shading for these south-facing spaces. 


  • Begun: Sep 2012
  • Completed: Nov 2016
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £4.9M
  • Procurement: Design and Build
  • CO2 Emissions: 25.4kg/m2/year
  • Address: Rockvilla, 125 Craighall Road, Glasgow, G4 9TL, United Kingdom

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