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Royal Exchange Theatre – The Den

Shortlisted 2020

Location – Greater Manchester
Architect – Haworth Tompkins
Client – Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester
Structural engineer – Expedition
Main contractor – Xylotek Ltd
Joinery & wood supplier – Buckland Timber Ltd
Metalwork – Hi-tech Resourcing Ltd
Species – Siberian larch

The Den is a pop-up performance space created for a touring professional theatre. The modular structure is reliant on strong and lightweight glulam larch components. It can be assembled in three different sizes, which enables its use in a wide variety of venues. At its largest, it measures 15m in diameter, 5m in height and seats 180 people. It requires no foundations or lifting equipment, an innovative system of fifteen winches and bespoke brackets raise the large circular roof into place. Larch has the elasticity to allow for use on uneven ground and provides the strength to support the heavy lighting rigs and resist the tension from the hardy-hemp rope bracing. The structure draws people into the space and provides an enclosed setting for performances whilst focusing the eye on a central stage. Theatre lights cast dramatic shadows onto the structure’s canvas skin.