2021 Architecture Commission Online Meeting Minutes, November 19

Nov 25, 2021

Download the minutes in PDF


1.1    This meeting was held on-line because travel restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
1.2    The following participated in the video conference meeting using ‘Zoom’ technology:

OISTAT Headquarters:
Szuyun Yu Taiwan   

Kate Burnett    UK    
Debbie Clark    UK  
Greg Cook    USA   
Eric Costa        
Tim Foster    UK   (retiring chair)    
Bert Determann    Netherlands  
Martien van Goor    Netherlands  
Robert Hamilton    Canada   
Todd Hensley    USA  
Louis Janssen    Netherlands    
Wes Jenkins    Canada   
Cyril Lamy    France/Vietnam   
Peter McKinnon    Canada    
Aleksandra Pešterac    Serbia    
Jason Robbins    Canada   
Mercedes Reman-Manson        
Peter Ruthven Hall    UK (vice-chair) 
Margaret Shewring    UK    
David Staples    UK    
Kiem-Lian The    Netherlands   
Verena Thim ATG        
Selma Göker Wilson    USA    
Bassam Yagout    Egypt    
Maaike Westinga    Netherlands (chair)    
Sheng-Yuan Huang    Guest-Taiwan (Cloud Gate Theatre)    
Roger Watts    Guest-UK

Torsten Nobling    Sweden (vice-chair)  
Jeong-Sik Yoo    Individual-Korea (vice-chair) 

As this was an on-line meeting this is a visual record of those that joined the meeting for part of it, if not for the full duration. These contact details will be added to the OISTAT circulation list for the Architecture Commission. Anyone wishing to be added to this list or to update their details can email OISTAT HQ with a request. If any address above is incorrect, please inform Peter Ruthven Hall.


Two attenders were able to share current project work.

1.1    Firstly, Sheng-Yuan Huang introduced his approach to the delightful Cloud Gate Dance Theatre in Taiwan. Set slightly outside Danshui it merges with the landscape with only the theatre canopy raised above a green lower building. The original studio theatre building (reused after a fire in 2008) now houses rehearsal spaces and technical rooms and has been extended to the side and upwards with the new stage floating above the supporting accommodation with windows on three sides. The new building opened in 2015. Rather than mask off these windows the view is welcomed into the productions. The raked seating for 450 provides an excellent view of the stage as well as the view out. The public areas feel very open and an extension of the landscape and the exterior areas are used for spontaneous performances and celebrations.

1.2    Secondly, Roger Watt from Haworth Tompkins Architects in London introduced the Bridge Theatre in London.
An obligation for a development of luxury housing was that the ground floor was for ‘cultural purposes’. The London theatre Company under Sir Nick Hytner and Nick Starr seized the opportunity to create a new 900 seat ‘West End’ theatre but near characterful Tower Bridge hence the name of the name. The developers minimised their costs in providing a shell for the cultural use, assumed to be a gallery rather than a theatre, so there were no acoustic isolation. The theatre had therefore to be built as a ‘box within a box’.
Haworth Tompkins adopted a theatre form combining the intimacy of the Royal Court Theatre with the Young Vic (both in London), concentrating on minimising the vertical distance between the galleries. In part this was a design imperative and in part a necessity to get three galleries in the basement void. The well is filled with TAIT deck which used only one leg per node. This gives considerable flexibility in seating and staging.
To give the shallowest possible balconies the decision was taken to make the whole auditorium in steel. TAIT’s Stage Technologies division were selected for detailed design and build contractors for the auditorium. The whole structure was prefabricated, finished and with all floor coverings and balustrades in place. The walls are made of vertical caissons to form the air supply paths and cable drops.

Presentation of work is to be encouraged and could become a more prominent feature of on-line meetings. Please consider this in anticipation of when we next meet.


2.1    The Architecture Commission needs to make plans for future activities and meetings. AC aims to meet at least once a year to provide an opportunity for anyone with an interest in theatre buildings to meet, to visit theatre buildings and to hold meetings and seminars with local practitioners. Besides that, we’re getting more and more used to the digital ways of meeting, so a few digital meetings each year will certainly be added to the program.

Maaike will set up a new schedule for the online meetings in 2022. 
This was the last meeting of 2021. We wish everybody a good and healthy end of the year and happy Christmas days.

•    Meeting in London hosted by ABTT/SBTD relating to the International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference (ITEAC), probably in June.
•    Meeting in Calgary at WSD, still planned for 6-13 August 2022.

Suggestions to increase participation are always welcomed so please assist by raising the profile of the AC in your own country. AC activities are open to anyone with an interest in theatre buildings.

Notes compiled by Peter Ruthven Hall with Maaike Westinga