Chief Executive

Arcola Theatre Relocates and Renews

Reprinted from Building Design: “UK’s first carbon-neutral theatre planned for Hackney” by Elizabeth Hopkirk, September 9, 2009

The Arcola Theatre in Hackney aims to relocate to a 2,000sq m site next to Dalston Junction station and create a 350-seat theatre built of sustainable materials including straw bales and doors salvaged from skips.

Engineer Arup has given 18 months worth of pro bono work for the proposal while the London Development Agency has awarded a £60,000 for a feasibility study subject to Hackney Council approving the site.

The overall concept, which can be scaled up or down according to how much money is raised, includes an expanded main theatre with two smaller studios, an eco café, gym, learning centre and park.

A key element is an enterprise centre with offices and laboratories for entrepreneurs and technology and product design firms.

Arcola chief executive Ben Todd said the feasibility study could be completed by December, with work on the new theatre starting in 2010 and completing in 2012.

Todd, who trained as an engineer, said: “The theatre will literally be built from straw bales, rendered to pass fire regs and be weather-proof.

“Doors from old schools and hospitals that don’t match are a nice example of the reuse, recycle attitude and are important to the texture. If we end up using steel and if most of the project comes after 2012, it would be a nice idea to recycle some of the Olympic stadia.”

Hackney Council is due to discuss the plans next week.

Go to the Green Theater Initiative