Everyman Theatre, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Haworth Tompkins

The Everyman holds an important place in Liverpool culture. The brief was to design a technically advanced and highly adaptable new theatre that would nevertheless retain the friendly, democratic accessibility of the old building, project the organisation’s values of cultural inclusion, community engagement and local creativity, and encapsulate the collective identity of the people of Liverpool.

The Everyman has been conceived from the outset of our involvement as an exemplar of sustainable good practice. Carefully dismantling the existing structure, we salvaged all the nineteenth century bricks for reuse as the shell of the new auditorium and recycled the timbers of the roof structure. Together with the client team we distilled the space brief into its minimum, densest and most adaptable form. Having minimised the space and material requirement of the project, we designed the fabric to achieve a BREEAM Excellent rating, unusual for an urban theatre building. Natural ventilation for the main performance and workspaces is achieved via large roof vents and underfloor intake plenums, using thermal mass as pre-cooling. The fully exposed concrete structure (with a high percentage of cement replacement) and reclaimed brickwork walls provide excellent thermal mass, while the orientation and fenestration design optimise solar response - the entire west façade is designed as a large screen of moveable sunshades.

The building makes use of the complex and constrained site geometry by arranging the public spaces around a series of half levels, establishing a continuous winding promenade from street to auditorium. Foyers and catering spaces are arranged on three levels including a new Bistro, culminating in a long piano nobile foyer overlooking the street. The auditorium is an adaptable thrust stage space of 400 seats, constructed from the reclaimed bricks of Hope Hall and manifesting as the internal walls of the foyers. The building incorporates numerous creative workspaces, with a rehearsal room, workshops, a sound studio, a Writers’ Room overlooking the foyer, and EV1 - a special studio dedicated to the Young Everyman Playhouse education and community groups. A diverse disability group has monitored the design from the outset.

Externally, local red brick was selected for the walls and four large ventilation stacks, giving the building a distinct silhouette and meshing it into the surrounding architecture. The main west facing façade of the building has been conceived as a large-scale public work of art consisting of 105 moveable metal sunshades, each one carrying a life-sized, water-cut portrait of a contemporary Liverpool resident. Typologist and artist Jake Tilson created a special font for a new version of the iconic red ‘Everyman’ sign, whilst regular collaborating artist Antoni Malinowski made a large painted ceiling piece for the foyer, to complement an internal palette of brickwork, black steel, oak, reclaimed Iroko, deeply coloured plywood and pale in situ concrete.

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