The Castle Theatre
Aberystwyth University’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies commissioned us –along with regulator collaborators Charcoalblue, Momentum, PG Acoustics, Skelly and Couch and Bristow Johnson- to undertake a stage C-level study of the transformation of the former Castle Theatre on the Aberystwyth sea front. The building –dating from 1911- benefits from an exceptional situation, which it rather ignores. It is a simple interior volume of generous height and a strong rhythm of wooden roof trusses.
Our design approach sought to maintain its core strengths whilst engaging the site (through enlarged sea-facing wood-paneled doors), and adding necessary air handling and theatre technology without compromising the existing fabric (this involved locally strengthening the roof, re-laying the tiles over acoustic and thermal insulation, and inserting unobtrusive mechanised lighting bars). Following the paradigms of several other projects from our practice, we developed this venue to be used as a found space without preconceived notions of seating and scenography.
Flexibility was designed-in as a possibility (utilising existing pit volumes, improving access routes for audience, performers and goods), rather than over-specified using expensive technology. The space can be subdivided using a sliding acoustic wall for use as two distinct teaching spaces; the generous and unconventional volume (with the possibility of natural light) invites a range of uses including immersive or ‘environmental’ settings, conventional end-stage or thrust, and even light musical theatre with a small band pit.
Client: Aberystwyth University
Size: 1200 sq.m
Budget: 4.3M euros
Studio Andrew Todd architects
Theatre consultant: Charcoalblue
Acoustics: Gilleron Scott
Structural Engineering: Momentum
M+E Engineering: Skelly and Couch