Project of the month: The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
The Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank has harboured a well-kept secret since it opened in 1997: space next to the foyer that was used for rehearsals and education projects was always intended as the site for a Jacobean playhouse. The new facility, which complements the Globe’s open-air auditorium and fulfils Globe patron Sam Wanamaker’s original vision for the complex, finally opened last month.
The theatre is a reimagination of what a 17th century theatre might have looked like, and was designed by architect Allies & Morrison. The 350-seat, £750m theatre drew on sketch designs by 17th century architect John Webb that were recently discovered in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
The wood-panelled theatre was inserted into the existing brick chamber by London-based Virtus Contracts, which embarked on the 44-week programme in November 2012.
The entire space is lit by candles attached to candelabra
The auditorium is an intimate space with the audience sitting in a tight horseshoe round the stage. The entire space is lit by candles hanging from candelabra, which can be raised or lowered.
Modern facilities, including a ventilation system that can distinguish between candle smoke and a fire, are fitted within a circulation corridor between the theatre and its brick shell.
The new theatre’s green oak frame was completed by the same contractors who built the main Globe auditorium. The frame is supported by oak columns that form a semi-circle around the playhouse. The painted ceiling was inspired by a similar ceiling at Cullen House in Banff, Scotland.
Last year Virtus also completed works to remodel the theatre complex’s foyer space, from which visitors will access the new playhouse.
The new theatre is horseshoe shaped and features lighting by candelabra, while the roof is inspired by a similar ceiling at Cullen House in Banff, Scotland.
1. New Globe Walk
2. Access corridors
3. Lower gallery
4. Lecture theatre
6. Dressing room
9. Dressing room