Useful Studio, in their ongoing role advising the school, have recently completed the inventive conversion of a redundant school gym into a new 200-seat theatre for drama and music, the latest development in our innovative low-waste Masterplan for St Mark’s Catholic School in Hounslow.
The intelligent refurbishment follows the completion of a new Sports Hall on the grounds, that once complete left behind an acoustically and thermally poor masonry box within the main body of the school. In collaboration with the school and aligning with the Masterplan this has been completely reconsidered as a high-performing Drama Theatre for the school and greater community. The resultant rich materiality and imaginative approach to servicing now belie the building’s former use.
Dressed in deep claret and acoustic-baffling bamboo, the Theatre provides temperature-controlled fresh air supply from beneath the fixed seating – an innovative solution that does not compromise space or visitor experience under the loudest noise contours of Heathrow Airport.
The scheme provides an entrance foyer, a level performance area, fixed seating, a mezzanine for sound and theatrical control and stage storage underneath. Original hard wood flooring has been stripped back for current use and where feasible we have avoided a layering of new finishes avoiding paint and other high maintenance products.
The Drama Theatre is a fine example of how giving retained buildings a new lease of life keeps costs and construction disruption down and avoids significant demolition, which is more sustainable as well as taking less time to deliver.
With alumni including Elvis Costello the school are looking forward to continued success in the arts, drama and music.
St. Mark's School
Architect: Useful Studio
Structural Engineer: Expedition Engineering
Mechanical Engineer: Novarama
Cost Consultant: Appleyard & Trew
Image Credits: Jill Tate