One thing Battersea Arts Centre has in large quantities is space.
Metres and metres and metres squared of the stuff. 6,200 of them, in fact.
If you’ve been to any kind of promenade show here, such as 2007/2008’s Masque of the Red Death or our own production of The Good Neighbour, then you will have experienced the sense of exploration that navigating the twisty corridors and interlinked rooms can create. You may well have wished you’d also believed the pre-show info and worn more comfortable shoes.
In undertaking the enormous change to the building that the current works will make, it was important to us that we didn’t ever lose that ability to turn our audiences around and around within the maze-like layout of rooms and passages, taking them further away from the real world outside the walls and into 1930’s Paris (for Little Bulb’s Orpheus), for example.
It’s always been a key focus that our building is one of the greatest characters in any production, which is a driving reason for the removal of our black box theatre spaces over the last 5 years. When the whole space can resonate with the show created within it, an exciting atmosphere surrounds you, and that often necessary suspension of disbelief required is so much easier to achieve.
Around the courtyard, we have started to re-level floors, and the danger could be that in making the access easier, we open up the building to a more simplistic layout.
However, we’re confidant that despite finally connecting the east and west sides of the building at the north end of the Courtyard (previously you’d have had to descend 2 flights of stairs to cross this great divide), we will retain the ability to design new and creative routes for you. In fact, one aspect of the Courtyard theatre space will be doors at every level that we can open out onto whatever rake or scaffold has been constructed within the outdoor area, and link them ourselves with (appropriately handrailed) staircases and platforms.
All of this finally achieves our biggest change, which is to move all staff offices into the newly opened attics on the west side of the building’s 2nd floor. In doing so, we free up every square metre outside of the additional 575 m2 we’re adding to serve our core mission and activities.
And in that internal space, I have calculated we could fit the following…