After almost a decade of careful planning, the Liverpool Everyman Theatre is now open. This new 400-seat auditorium and multipurpose building was designed by the London-based architectural firm Haworth Thompkins. Having won a competition for the design, the team was able to design a technically advanced and highly adaptable theater that achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating. Oh, and did we mention that they reused over 25,000 bricks in the process?
The Everyman is a culturally important hub for Liverpool, capturing the creativity and community engagement that makes the theater a vital building. Originally housed in a converted 19th century chapel, the new design plays upon the historic significance of the adjacent buildings while announcing the Everyman’s presence to the street. The new complex, built mostly of brick, focuses on a local red brick facade and four large ventilation stacks, which gives the building a wonderful profile that conforms well to the neighboring architecture. Since this was an urban infill project on an existing building site, the team at Haworth Tompkins also went through the painstaking effort of preserving almost 25,000 of the existing red bricks to be reused throughout the building.
The building’s program includes creative workspaces, rehearsal rooms, sound studios, workshop spaces, community meeting rooms, and a large foyer, which wraps to a long piano nobile space overlooking the street. The main façade is a large public art display made up of 105 moveable metal sunshades. These sustainable building features carry a life-size portrait of contemporary Liverpool residents. Courtesy of local photographer Dan Kenyon, this is one of the largest community “family portraits” ever assembled.
The sustainability of the building was drawn into question very early in the design process. Not only does it boast features such as the use of natural ventilation, reclaimed materials, and passive heating through thermal mass, but the building’s size was carefully considered as well. Early designs called for a much larger building, but the team at Haworth Tompkins conceived a smaller and more efficient plan in order to keep costs and demolition to a minimum. A much larger building would have called for the demolition of adjoining and adjacent buildings. The final design ultimately helped preserve the history of the community’s building!
Photography by Philip Vile