Tales from the Theatrical Woods: Chapter 11
27 October 2016
While construction proceeds apace, its speed means aspects of detailed internal design have to run currently. Recesses for a coffee bar and a sales counter have been incorporated into the inner drum fronting the foyer; the foyer floor has been modified to accommodate the cherished model railway, but now expanded to take in stops at notable opera houses across Europe. However no building element is receiving more attention and design deliberation than the two public staircases. These are set either side of the auditorium. They give access to the upper tiers where some of the most favoured seats are located. They also provide the sole means of escape for those seated at the upper levels. So the staircases have to be both elegant, wafting audiences to the seats, and functional, getting them away from the building with least possible impediment in the case of an emergency. We think we have found a reconciliation of this need for ease and urgency, but we are still debating materials, details, finish and lighting. We will shortly have to conclude these considerations as the building is catching up on us.
The structural skeleton is now almost complete and, next week, the floor and roof planks will be lifted and placed in position. This morning I looked at the time lapse photo and discovered the structural frame, overnight, had grown strange high level projecting steel brackets. Could it be some guerrilla action for another tier? No. It turns out that Martin Smith, the builder, thinking ahead, had placed these brackets as a temporary measure to be boarded over and provide access to the roof for construction and finishing and, possibly, to obviate the need for encasing building scaffolding during the first festival next year.
David Lloyd Jones