Hampstead Theatre

HT — London’s first new theatre since the National opened in 1976 — is a classic ‘egg-in-box’ (like the Royal Festival Hall) scaled down for more local audiences, the outsides animated by lots of glass, wood shutters and lighting design by artist Martin Richman. But, in truth, one should forget the polite and timid exterior (compare with Hackney Empire, for example) and go straight inside.

The auditorium with adaptable seating for up to 325p is slung above the foyer areas and their gallery, and an underground level provides additional facilities — all of which comes across as a lively and very pleasant atrium space that connects levels, disparate activities and public / private realms. Now, about that dreary exterior, which surely could have been so much more self-celebratory. . .

Central School of Speech & Drama

The architects for this educational building offer much unnecessary hype about contexturalism — none of which is evident on the pavement. What does come across is a strong ambition to make an urban contribution to what is currently going on at this busy road intersection and to participate in a grouping that includes Spence’s library (opposite) and Bennett’s theatre (above). The planning is all about linkages and project staging as well as facilities.

Updated: 25th October 2014 — 6:27 am