Chapman Architects deliver a new vision for Kiln theatre

8 November 2018
  • Philip Vile
  • Philip Vile


United Kingdom

Popular London venue opens after re-vamp

The Kiln Theatre has re-opened in Kilburn, following a design process that proves upgrading much-loved performance arts spaces can be just as rewarding as the creation of new, large-scale projects. Architect, Greg Chapman states: “For us, working with the theatre has been a unique experience; the dialogue and passion to achieve the very best has resulted in a real ‘one off ’!”
The recent works sought to both improve the ‘front of house’ experience for the public and provide a better environment for performances and performers alike. The number of seats rose from 192 to 292, a new café was created and the existing bar upgraded. Vital aspects of modernisation were also tackled, with the building made fully accessible via an easy, ramped approach and increased numbers of wheelchair seating within the auditorium. State-of-the-art production facilities and new offices were established to make life easier behind the scenes. Overall, the design has a sense of drama appropriate to the space, with the use of bold colours combined with artistic ‘friezes’.

The venue has a long history, starting life in 1929 as a meeting hall for the Friendly Society of Foresters before its conversion in 1980 into a theatre named the Tricycle after touring theatre company the Wakefield Tricycle Company. As is the case with any established arts space, change can cause controversy: in this case, artistic director Indhu Rubasingham’s decision to rename the venue as the Kiln attracted protests. 

However, the opening has proved successful, with the upgrade gaining complements for its sensitive restoration of the original building’s features. Greg Chapman says: “From an aesthetic point of view, all of the existing parts of the Forester’s Hall that could be retained were exposed, and now provide a wonderful backdrop to the new auditorium, reminding one of the theatre’s past.”

Lucy Nordberg 
TenderStream Head of Research

This competition was first published by TenderStream on 08.01.2013 here

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