Liverpool, United Kingdom
The old Everyman Theatre in Liverpool was a well-loved, high-visibility public building in a historic part of the city. When the time came to replace the building with an all-new theatre, Haworth Tompkins architects won the job. The brief: retain the friendly accessibility and community engagement of the original. A daunting task, but well worth the effort, says Haworth Tompkins’ Will Mesher.
All about the performance
“Architects typically want to make a statement with their designs”, says Mesher. “Especially when a big public building is concerned. A theatre isn’t about the permanent architecture though; it’s about the performance. That means you’re working with a slightly different set of rules. There are strict technical requirements to the performance area. The rest of the building has to prepare the visitor for the performance, by making them feel comfortable, relaxed.”
To Mesher, this meant the front-of-house design elements should have a natural feel to them. “There’s no highly polished marble, nothing is too slick. We wanted a tactile experience, so we used timber, reclaimed bricks from the demolished building and exposed boardmarked concrete. We selected the flooring late in the construction process, so we could match its colour and texture to the existing design.”
A great night out
The result is a theatre that – true to its name – makes every visitor instantly feel at home. “Seeing people using the spaces as intended on the opening night was a big reward”, says Mesher. “The old Everyman was about one thing only: people having a great night out. It makes me proud that the new theatre captures that spirit.”