Webb Yates Engineers, in collaboration with Jonathan Tuckey Designs, has completed a new theatre in the grounds of the Horris Hill School in Newbury, Berkshire. The new, sustainable building has been carefully crafted to sit with the neighbouring buildings, turning what was once the site of a portakabin design and technology classroom into an animated civic square.
The 150 seat theatre is naturally ventilated and is constructed from cross-laminated timber with cement/wood fibre cladding panels supported by a reinforced concrete raft. A large, engineered portico which stands as a distinct but related structure in front of the theatre serves to activate the space in front. The material becomes part of the building’s careful calibration between the campus and its wooded setting. 163m3 of spruce was sourced from sustainable forests in Austria and pre-cut to allow the building form to be assembled on site. Located on a gently sloping site, the required retaining wall to the rear elevation doubles up as an exposed concrete bench for the students.
Inside, the timber structure is left exposed and augmented by a veil of beech battens, with Viroc used for the floor.
Designed to host assemblies, music and drama productions, the theatre will significantly enhance the personal development of the 130 pupils attending the school, giving access to all aspects of theatre practice: performance, production and design, embedding these into the culture of the school.