The North Wall by Haworth Tompkins

The North Wall, designed by Haworth Tompkins, is a new arts center for St. Edwards School in Oxford that incorporates a visual arts gallery, dance studio and theatre.

The buildings, which forms part of the boundary between the school campus and the street, comprises a flexible 250 seat courtyard theatre, a fully equipped drama studio, a dance studio and a visual arts gallery, along with full front and back of house facilities for in house productions and professional touring companies.

The mellow stone boundary wall runs the entire length of the street elevation and has been incorporated into the building. The new timber-framed theatre uses moveable rostra to allow end-on, in-the-round, traverse and thrust stage settings to be employed. The remaining facilities are housed in a new building that combines with the stone wall and the pitched roofline form a coherent, carefully scaled streetscape to the public side and a new courtyard and outdoor performance space to the school side.

The walls and roof of the building are clad in unseasoned English oak shakes and thin vertical slats, designed to bend and twist into organic, patinated surfaces that will vary in color and texture according to orientation and exposure.

The combination of vernacular forms, large frameless windows and a traditional but non-local primary cladding material is intended to appear both familiar and strange in the red brick and clay tile setting of the school and its immediate surroundings, emphasising the purpose of the building as a place for innovation and creativity within a sensitive historic environment.

Via Judit Bellostes

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