The total construction cost of the new Everyman is £13m
UK - Liverpool's Everyman Theatre, whose acting alumni includes Pete Postlethwaite and Julie Walters, has undergone a complete structural and artistic renovation thanks to the Everyman creative team, architects Haworth Tompkins and theatre consultants Charcoalblue.

In 2005 the Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust enlisted Haworth Tompkins and Charcoalblue to consult on the complex and ambitious project.

Having just celebrated their 10th Birthday, Charcoalblue's managing partner, Andy Hayles, observed that for nine of those years the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Team has been their most determined client.

"When a project takes this long to get through funding hoops and complex site negotiations, the sense of achievement experienced when opening such a sensational building is particularly poignant," says Hayles. "The client and design team have become close; indeed I've known most of them longer than two of my own children! There is no doubt that Gemma Bodinetz, Deborah Aydon, Robert Longthorne, Jeff Salmon and Sylvia Hebden have earned every one of the plaudits that the building has and will receive."

Deborah Aydon, executive director of the Everyman and client on the project from inception says: "Charcoalblue and Haworth Tompkins have achieved what should have been impossible: creating a new theatre that feels instantly familiar and welcoming both to long-term aficionados and to first-time visitors."

Ian Stickland, senior consultant at Charcoalblue, continues, "The key brief was to build a new space that captured the soul of the old theatre without the existing constraints. The new theatre had to be technically state-of-the-art, inherently flexible, fully accessible yet instantly recognisable as 'The Ev'."

"At the opening we were amazed how many people describe the auditorium as a renewal of the old space," adds Hayles. "In fact it's entirely brand new."

Charcoalblue has also given the seats some careful attention. Working alongside the Everyman creative team, Haworth Tompkins and seating manufacturers Kirwin & Simpson, Charcoalblue designed a seat that was comfortable, sturdy, lightweight and instantly familiar with the shape and fabric based around old cinema-style seats.

Technically the theatre benefits from practical technical bridges (including a pair of rolling bridges) situated above the thrust stage and a shallow flytower. This enables automated 3D flying over the whole stage area along with full stage lighting and audiovisual systems.

"Demolishing a much-loved building is always risky," states Stickland. "The biggest challenge with Liverpool was to capture the spirit of the original building, squeeze it into a very tight city-centre location and make the budgets work during a recession. We dealt with these challenges by testing every design decision thoroughly and working closely with our colleagues and client. We spent time endeavoring to understand and capture what people loved about the old theatre, while ensuring that we installed technology which will offer the very best value for money."

The total construction cost of the new Everyman is £13m. Funding came from the Arts Council England and a host of foundations and charitable trusts, as well as donations made through the £1m Everyone for the Everyman public fundraising campaign.

(Jim Evans)

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