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Bristol Old Vic

Following 2012’s auditorium refurbishment, the Bristol Old Vic team set out to make the theatre a welcoming place for the whole of Bristol. 


The proposals included a new wide, open entrance foyer with lifts to all floors, more loos, a new studio theatre, longer bars and the return of Coopers’ Hall to its original 18th century use as an events space for the city. The new foyer design is inspired by the openness of an Italian piazza, with natural light filling the space through high-level windows. 


The new space also meets high environmental standards, with a ‘green’ planted roof and passive ventilation through an underground labyrinth, instead of air conditioning. This makes the new buildings efficient to run, as well as reducing the organisation’s carbon footprint.


Structural challenges included a complicated timber diagrid over the foyer, alterations within a Grade I listed building and advice on intricate architectural metalwork detailing to expose structure, craftsmanship and the history of the building.


The team included Haworth Tompkins Architects, Max Fordham, Charcoalblue, Gilbert-Ash, Gardiner & Theobald and Plann.


RIBA South West Award 2019

RIBA South West Conservation Award 2019

RIBA South West Building of the Year 2019

IStructE Structural Heritage Award 2019 shortlist


Judge's comment for the IStructE Structural Heritage Award 2019 shortlist . The engineers were challenged by the requirement of weaving a new structure between and within parts of a listed building believed to have originated in the 1700’s. Many lines of support from the new structure did not align with the existing substructure, meaning many innovative details were used to transfer new loadings into the original foundations.

The judges were impressed by the many examples of pragmatic engineering judgement which avoided unnecessary structural intervention. The entrance foyer showcases a stunning diagrid timber roof and thoughtful use of timber in the construction of balconies and mezzanine floors.


Client . Bristol Old Vic

Architect . Haworth Tompkins Architects

© Fred Howarth

© Philip Vile

© Philip Vile

© Fred Howarth

© Philip Vile

© Philip Vile