Royal Court Theatre Bar and Kitchen
Refurbishment of undercroft bar and kitchen to provide improved circulation and layout, new bar, intimate dining areas and flexible informal seating/performance area. The bar and kitchen in the historic Royal Court Theatre, Slone Square has been carefully redesigned by Lyndon Goode Architects with Citizens Design Bureau to create a contemporary space that complements the existing building.
The Grade II-listed Royal Court Theatre is an oasis of radicalism in Kensington. The project involved refurbishment of the much loved atmospheric undercroft bar designed by Haworth Tompkins in 2000.
During the evening it felt over congested, whilst daytime use dwindled. The space has been re-planned to address these issues, relocating the bar to the centre of the room, creating subtle spatial subdivisions.
Nooks and booths add a diversity of spaces suitable for day and evening use, whilst the warmly lit ‘ladies room’ draws the audience through to an intimate library at the rear.
By re-purposing a familiar palette of materials, the Royal Court’s distinctive personality is retained: re-used slate from the original bar forms benches; filigree screens reference existing metalwork whilst mirrors capture fragments of the Royal Court sign on descending the stairs.
Lyndon Goode Architects:
The Royal Court Theatre, located opposite London’s King’s Road, is Britain’s leading national company dedicated to new work by innovative writers from the UK and around the world. The theatre’s pivotal role in promoting new voices is undisputed – the New York Times described it as ‘the most important theatre in Europe’.
After successfully helping the Theatre to obtain Arts Council funding for a whole-building services replacement, the team was selected to design new front of house facilities – including a restaurant and bar. Despite being located adjacent to Sloane Square underground station the existing facilities were poorly used during the daytime. Conversely, during evening performances, long queues were common, especially at interval times.
To address these issues, a radical replanning of the undercroft space was proposed, relocating the bar from the edge of the room to the centre, and including zones of perimeter accommodation to suit the different customer and audience demands. Phasing and timing of the work was critical, as were costs, for which the team worked closely with the Theatre (a charity) and quantity surveyor to make sure that budgets were not exceeded.
After speaking with a number of playwrights and actors to understand their perception of the front of house spaces, the team looked at various options for the layout of the primary spaces, including the location of the main bar. Relocating this to the centre of the space created a clear circulation route – helping with peak drinking times – but also encouraged customers to enter into the depth of the room, rather than standing uncomfortably at the edge.
Shaped in a ‘horseshoe’ configuration, the bar helps to define other zones around the room, including for informal seating, dining, resting and working. A reading room at the very back of the space helps to draw visitors through and encourages longer periods of stay, with laptop points and task lighting designed into the bespoke joinery. In combination, the design promotes a ‘democratic’ use, in-keeping with the dialogue that the Theatre wishes to encourage.
Materials and detailed was carefully developed to complement the existing building, while having its own contemporary identity. The furniture is designed to be worn into, to look better in five years than it does on day one. Where possible, materials were salvaged and reused, including the old slate bar top used to make benches. And to ensure a personality that is particular to the Royal Court, all joinery is unique, from the custom-made pendant lights, to the filigree screens behind booths.
Lyndon Goode Architects with Citizens Design Bureau developed the design, managed the statutory process (including obtaining listed building consent), and produced detailed tender information for the project. All completed in an exceptionally short time period – the first presentation to the Theatre’s team in March, start on site was in August, all was complete in September.
Of the project, Dominic Cavendish, theatre critic at the Daily Telegraph newspaper, said “Revamped bar downstairs is well nice”.
Project name: Royal Court Theatre Bar and Kitchen
Location: 50-51 Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51.492533, -0.156599
Type: Lounge / Bar / Restaurant / Night Clubs
Project Area: 285 sqm
Completion Year: 2014
Opening Date: September 2014
Visit Royal Court Theatre’s website: here
Client / Owner / Developer: Royal Court Theatre
Architects & Interior Designer:
- Lyndon Goode Architects – 7, Cliff Road Studios, 5 Cliff Rd, London NW1 9AN, United Kingdom
- Citizens Design Bureau – 2 CHRISTCHURCH SQUARE LONDON, E9 7HU United Kingdom
Text Description: © Courtesy of Lyndon Goode Architects, Citizens Design Bureau
Images: © Lyndon Goode Architects, Citizens Design Bureau, Eleonore De Bonnevale