Hytner Gives Details of £70m National 'Masterplan'Date: 17 June 2010
In an article for the Evening Standard, Hytner, who has been artistic director of the NT since 2003, explains the thinking behind the 'masterplan', which includes the refurbishment and expansion of the Cottesloe as an education centre and the construction of a new cafe and glass-fronted production building.
“The spiritual heart of the project is a new education centre, allowing 50,000 more people a year to engage in learning and training activities” he writes. “We are going to transform the Cottesloe theatre and its foyer so that we can equip the National for the first time in its history with integral education spaces and facilities to engage audiences young and old.”
The £70 million NT Future scheme has been designed by architects Haworth Tompkins, who were first commissioned in 2007. Denys Lasdun's landmark original is a listed building, though its surroundings have changed considerably since it was opened in 1976.
Hytner points out that whereas the building used to sit “at the far eastern corner of the South Bank”, meaning visitors tended to come from the direction of Waterloo, it now has over 12 million people walking past annually. “The world around us is buzzing with activity. We need to unlock what can be a forbidding exterior and let both light and the public flood in. Metaphorically, we need to break down the National's walls.”
In order to do this, the river-facing goods entrance will be replaced by a cafe-bar, and the south side of the building will house a new glass-fronted production building, which will include a modernised paint studio, “offering passers-by dramatic views of scenic artists at work, and sets being built”.
There will also be studios for designers and dedicated suites for digital production, enabling the NT to advance current projects such as NT Live and digital online content.
The plans were submitted to Lambeth Planning earlier this month, and also include details of environmental upgrades to the building. “We literally want to green the building,” writes Hytner, “It wouldn't be going too far to say that we want to make a new London park out of our terraces.”