Architecture

Wembley Theatre puts a new spin on theater in the round

Wembley Theatre puts a new spi...
The audience at Wembley Theatre will be surrounded by the stage and seated on a 360-degree rotating turntable, allowing different parts of a set to be presented to audience members
The audience at Wembley Theatre will be surrounded by the stage and seated on a 360-degree rotating turntable, allowing different parts of a set to be presented to audience members
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Wembley Theatre will sit on a a 0.79-ha (2-ac) site
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Wembley Theatre will sit on a a 0.79-ha (2-ac) site
Wembley Theatre is described as "the first of a series of cultural interventions in the emerging cityscape of Wembley"
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Wembley Theatre is described as "the first of a series of cultural interventions in the emerging cityscape of Wembley"
Wembley Theatre has planning permission for 10 years, after which it is expected to be disassembled and moved to another location
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Wembley Theatre has planning permission for 10 years, after which it is expected to be disassembled and moved to another location
Wembley Theatre comprises a lower 1,760-sq m (18,944-sq ft) front-of-house volume and an upper 4,500-sq m (48,437-sq ft) black box volume that will house its auditorium
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Wembley Theatre comprises a lower 1,760-sq m (18,944-sq ft) front-of-house volume and an upper 4,500-sq m (48,437-sq ft) black box volume that will house its auditorium
Wembley Theatre's auditorium will seat up to 1,300 people
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Wembley Theatre's auditorium will seat up to 1,300 people
The audience at Wembley Theatre will be surrounded by the stage and seated on a 360-degree rotating turntable, allowing different parts of a set to be presented to audience members
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The audience at Wembley Theatre will be surrounded by the stage and seated on a 360-degree rotating turntable, allowing different parts of a set to be presented to audience members
Wembley Theatre will make use of projection panels to hide parts of the set and to present accompanying film aspects as part of productions
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Wembley Theatre will make use of projection panels to hide parts of the set and to present accompanying film aspects as part of productions
View gallery - 7 images

You're likely familiar with the concept of "theater in the round," in which the stage is surrounded by the audience on all sides. London's new Wembley Theater, however, will turn that on its head, with the audience surrounded by the stage and seated on a 360-degree rotating turntable.

The theater is described as "the first of a series of cultural interventions in the emerging cityscape of Wembley," and has come about as a result of two factors. Dutch theater company Imagine Nation had been looking for a site in London, while Wembley itself is undergoing regeneration, with cultural venues seen as a way of animating the area and engaging the public.

Wembley met the criteria that Imagine Nation was looking for, and the firm awarded the design of the theater to architects Flanagan Lawrence, following a competition. The theater will sit on an existing 0.79-ha (2-ac) empty site, but only temporarily. The building only has planning permission for 10 years, after which the plan is to disassemble it and move it to another location.

The structure is designed to have a short construction time, aimed at getting the building up and running as a cultural hub quickly. The system for its construction employs a steel frame with 7.5-m (24.6-ft) spans and cladding that comes as modules of 3.75 m (12.3 ft), allowing it to be assembled quickly and easily on site.

Wembley Theatre will sit on a a 0.79-ha (2-ac) site
Wembley Theatre will sit on a a 0.79-ha (2-ac) site

The building will comprise two volumes. A 1,760-sq m (18,944-sq ft) front-of-house section will house the foyer and bar areas, cloak rooms, a box office and a restaurant. An upper 4,500-sq m (48,437-sq ft) black box, meanwhile, will house the auditorium, including its seating, staging and sets, as well as dressing rooms and technical facilities.

The auditorium will seat up to 1,300 people. Using Imagine Nation's own StageAround staging technology, it will be possible to rotate the audience to view different sections of the surrounding stage area. In this way, different sets will be able to be presented to the audience and it will also be possible to hide the sets behind projection panels and display accompanying film aspects as part of productions. Gizmag has requested more information about how the rotating auditorium will work and what technology will it use.

Wembley Theatre is currently under construction now and is expected to be complete by 2017.

Sources: Flanagan Lawrence, Imagine Nation, Brent Council

View gallery - 7 images
1 comment
EH
It's a great design. I suppose they have the next scene of the play getting set up out of sight of the audience, and rotate to it? They could do a bit more with that plaza out front, though. It's not very inviting.