LEICESTER.- Curve is Rafael Viñoly Architects first completed project in the United Kingdom. It is an innovative, democratic building that respects Leicesters history, whilst helping to redefine its future.
The £61 million project is the result of a close collaboration between the design team, Leicester Theatre Trust and Leicester City Council. The cutting edge design turns the typical theatre configuration inside out by exposing the production, construction, craft, and technical components of theatre to the public, integrating all aspects of performance into the life of the city and making it truly inclusive and accessible. For the very first time audiences and passers-by will be engaged in the actual process of theatre-making, behind the scenes.
An anchor for the redevelopment of the St. Georges Conservation Area in Leicester, the heart of the Cultural Quarter, the theatre features a four-story glazed and louvered curtain wall. Hung from a vast truss spanning the site, the glass hits the ground without interruption from structure, offering a continuous and unobstructed 4m high window revealing the two main audience volumes, a 750 seat main auditorium and a 350-seat studio, and the production and administrative facilities behind.
Conceived as islands within a public foyer, a central stage sits at street level between the two coloured volumes, and a system of metal shutters enable the creative team to place the audience in a variety of configurations, creating possibilities for either conventional or technically more ambitious theatre production and design. The continuum of stage, foyer and street at one level allows for clear visual connection between audience, actor and the public, and offers up possibilities for both traditional and unconventional uses of the space to meet the communitys diverse cultural needs. No distinction is made between front and back-of-house; double-height workshops and production spaces feature glass walls that expose production activities and make them a visible part of the spectacle. A café is located at street level to attract visitors throughout the day and during the non-performance hours.
An L-shaped brick volume along the north and west elevations contains dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces, production facilities, the ticket office, a recording studio, a kitchen, Leicester Theatre Trusts offices, and support spaces. Tiers of balconies at upper levels overlook the foyer, giving physical and visual connections to staff, performers, and the audience from the top to the bottom of the buildings volume that activate a dramatic, engaging space.
Curve is an extraordinary contribution to the regeneration of Leicester, says Rafael Viñoly. This could not have been if it werent for the vision of the people involved. They were interested in this notion of a theatre being an inside-out experience, something in which the production has an interest and value as well as the performance itself.
This view has been endorsed by the leader of Leicester City Council, Councillor Ross Willmott. We wanted a world-class building that sets a marker for where we are going as a city. Curve is just that: it states clearly and powerfully the ambition we have for our city.
Paul Kerryson, Artistic Director of Leicester Theatre Trust says: Curves completion has seen the culmination of unparalleled expertise, ambition and dedication, and we are delighted to have a brand new home which will enable us to push the boundaries of twenty-first century theatremaking.