Architect David Bickle explains that the new space is used for children “who have multiple and complex learning difficulties, helping to bring theatre to audiences who might not otherwise have the chance to experience it.” On the exterior, the tall yellow structure was incorporated onto the original brick facade using as much care as possible and the original Victorian staircase was left untouched. “We were very careful to retain as much of the original structure as possible and wanted to incorporate the same energy into the building as the theatre puts into its productions.” However, to create a 100 percent accessible building for disabled children, the architects installed a bright yellow aluminium elevator that connects the outdoor playground with the interior theater space.
On the interior, the new structure converts into an indoor treehouse, hanging from the top floor office ceiling and is used for various activities. Similar to the exterior and the elevator, the floating tree house is covered in circular cutouts, which represent the scented bubbles often used in the theater’s productions. Thanks to the dynamic design, the Oily Cart Theatre was recently nominated for a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) London Award.
Photography by Tim Crocker