Truck Unveils New HomeDate: 7 April 2009
Hull Truck gave the first access to its new home yesterday at the building’s press launch. Designed by architect Wright and Wright, the £15m structure incorporates two auditoria – a 440 seat main house to replace the 290 seat Spring Street theatre and a new 134 seat studio theatre. The new build, which opens on 23 April, also encompasses two café-bars that will open all day and an education facility.
The building’s design, and especially that of the main auditorium, has been shaped by the need to offer better facilities to both performers and patrons while trying to retain the intimate and unassuming atmosphere of its predecessor. It is constructed primarily from brick, wood and steel in order to blend with the city’s industrial character, and equips Truck with numerous assets that it has never had on-site (or, in some cases, at all) before. These include a rehearsal room, a fully furnished green room, four capacious dressing rooms, two café-bars, an education room named “Inter@ct” and, of course, a second performance space intended partly to showcase the work of Hull Truck Youth Theatre. There are also two foyer areas that the company envisages as potential venues for daytime performances or exhibitions and an artwork by Turner Prize nominees Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier – a neon light curtain adorning the front of the building.
The main performance space is octagonal. It boasts gantries that serve to create the impression of a low ceiling as well as providing versatility in respect of lighting, high calibre technical equipment (for example, a flown speaker system, show relay and video show relay) and bespoke acoustics. In order to try to achieve the proximity of audience and performers that characterised Spring Street, a wider stage has been built than the one in the company’s former home. Since it is removable, the stage can be contoured variously, according to four main configurations. The walls are lined with oak boards and acoustic material and, as in the remainder of the building, are painted black. Both auditoria are ventilated by a “passive stack effect”, which effectively means that the route through which air passes into them has been designed so that the passage itself heats it. Hence Ian Smith, of engineering consultancy firm Max Fordham, claims that the new Truck is “probably the most sustainable theatre built to date”.
Given the attachment that the company and its patrons feel to Spring Street, reactions to the move will inevitably be ambivalent, but few will complain about the undeniably greater comfort that the Ferensway theatre offers. Both houses’ spacious seating is identical to that in Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House but, despite this and its higher capacity, the main house has only two more rows than its predecessor. Theatregoers’ comfort will further be ensured by the new build’s superior toilet provision: Truck estimates that its effective capacity, when staggered start times for shows are considered, will be at least double that of the old theatre.
Pictures of the new Hull Truck Theatre
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