RIBA Yorkshire Client of the Year Award

York Theatre Royal, Yorkshire | De Matos Ryan

York Theatre Royal is a part of York’s heritage, a global city renowned for its rich history and firmly rooted in traditions. The theatre site has been occupied since the mid-18th century, undergoing a number of alterations over the years. The most significant addition was made by Patrick Gwynne in 1967, with its iconic mushroom columns, free flowing space and futuristic skylights - a legacy to the modern movement at the beginning of the 20th Century.

The project occupies a very tight site adjacent to a world heritage site; with its grade II* listing the complete refurbishment of the auditorium and all associated areas, including the provisions for a new foyer and an extension of the street frontage, provides carefully managed and welcoming front of house facilities. The complexity of this arrangement belies the subtle but transformative changes which have occurred as a result of raising the theatre auditorium to provide a new foyer below.

Following our visit, it become apparent that a long-term strategy has been the central backbone of the alternations, driven by a committed client body to ensure the future viability of this important landmark. The client states that the refurbishment has:

“created additional space the theatre urgently needed in order to appeal to and engage a wider community, bring more people into the building and create the opportunity to increase revenue, enabling it to be more financially resilient in the future. Consulting with key stakeholders, including staff members, the Youth Theatre, audience and general public determined the changes needed to improve the visitor experience, to create a context for a sustainable business and to improve the theatre’s scope for high quality creative output”.

The final result demonstrates the complete success of the full design team in delivering an excellent refurbishment and the vital role of a well-informed client, working in collaboration with all stakeholders, and what can be achieved in the most challenging context. The enthusiasm and thorough understanding of the complexities of various stakeholders truly provides a place that will ensure the future viability of this theatre.

Source: RIBA