The redevelopment of the Royal Court Theatre was completed in January 2000, following a 5-year design and construction period. The works involved possibly some of the most complex structural engineering ever carried out on a single building.
Theatres do not often allow space for anything but an ‘integrated’ design. The design was therefore very much a ‘team’ effort. The client knew what they wanted, but it was not clear for some time how the existing building could be adapted to suit. The finished building is in many respects a result of exploring what was possible and how it could be built, rather than trying to impose a design on an unwilling structure. Conservation was very much a priority, where this did not conflict with the modern day functioning of the theatre.
This was one of the first lottery funded projects and was approved before the systems for submission and evaluation were finalised. The result is arguably a fine example of what can be achieved when the client and the design team develop the ideal brief without the constraint of a predetermined budget.
Some aspects of the three dimensional nature of the building were explained in a pictorial article in The Structural Engineer (Vol 80, No 3) 5 February 2002. The project won an IStructE Structural Heritage Award in 2001.
Paul Batty, CEng, MIStructE, MICE
Price & Myers
Sam Price, FREng, CEng, FICE, Hon FRIBA
Price & Myers