Artistic Director, Hampstead Theatre
Hampstead Theatre was Bennetts Associates' first cultural project and has been enjoyed by thousands of visitors since it first opened in 2003. Conceived as a highly adaptable building, we have overseen the evolution of the building in line with changing business demands and visitor expectations to maintain its position as a successful all-day venue which hosts sell-out productions in its two performance spaces.
The original RIBA Award-winning building was designed to support Hampstead Theatre’s continuing tradition of fostering new writing, with a flexible stage and a compact auditorium that can adapt to each play and production. Hampstead Theatre was also the catalyst for a major reworking of the whole Swiss Cottage site in north-west London and the subsequent masterplan was initiated by Bennetts Associates.
The building’s sculptural form expresses the volume of the auditorium and stage rising out of a rectangle of ancillary accommodation. A large basement prevents the building from dominating the site. The auditorium’s shallow ellipse accommodates various sizes of audience and stage format while maintaining the feel of a complete ‘room’. Flexible education and production workshops facilitate the client’s work commissioning and staging new plays.
In 2014, our practice was first invited to revisit the theatre to masterplan changes to the foyer and daytime visitor experience. The foyer was transformed in the summer of 2016, followed in the summer of 2019 by the refurbishment and extension of the main auditorium. The recent foyer and auditorium projects were carried out in six-week dark periods over the summer, they have resulted in an increase in the number of daytime visitors, increased spend and bar sales, and 40 additional seats in the main auditorium.