Technical Study: Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre, Cambridge

PAC4 credit Philip Vile low-res

Source: Philip Vile

Haworth Tompkins’ new theatre is a virtuoso performance, with an inspired and highly innovative glulam diagrid ceiling

When it comes to theatre design, architect Haworth Tompkins is a seasoned veteran with a number of celebrated projects under its belt. To date the practice has refurbished several showpiece performing arts venues around the country, including the Chichester Festival Theatre, London’s Royal Court Theatre and the Bristol Old Vic. Its work in this sector received national recognition when HaworthTompkins was nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2007 for its reworking of the Young Vic in London and when its stellar overhaul of Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre won the prize seven years later. 

Which is why it may come as a surprise to some to learn that the practice has never designed a new-build theatre, until now. The Peter Hall Performing Arts Centre is a £9.6m performance school for the Perse School, a 404-year-old independent school in Cambridge. The new building is named after Sir Peter Hall, the revered theatre director and Royal Shakespeare Company founder who died in 2017 – and who also happens to be a former pupil of the school. Coincidentally Hall is the longest-serving director of the National Theatre, a building with which Haworth Tompkins has a long association and which the practice renovated completely in 2015.

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