Cross-cultural London theatre organisation Tara Arts has been given the go ahead for a new theatre facility at its Earlsfield home that will create a striking local landmark and offer upgraded facilities and better performance experiences for audiences and artists. The London Borough of Wandsworth unanimously granted planning consent for the project.
Designed by RHWL Arts Team, the new venue will significantly improve the existing theatre provision on the site ?? boosting capacity to 100 seats, creating a more flexible space for performances, adding a new rehearsal space and making the venue fully accessible to audience, staff and artists.
The new structure has been inspired by Asian arts and designed to set up a contrast with the existing Victorian terrace: creating an interplay between east and west, old and new, theatricality and urban context, bringing the theatre??s artistic output to its street front.
RHWL Arts Team has drawn on the ??tree of life?? or ??tree of knowledge?? which appears in many traditions, and echoes the trees bordering the railway embankment adjoining the existing Tara Arts building. The main performance space will have an earthen floor, set within a reclaimed wood auditorium and the traditional craft skill of pargetting will be used to create Asian-inspired designs on the exterior frontage while echoing the carved brickwork panels along other buildings on Garratt Lane.
Julian Middleton, Director of RHWL Arts Team said: ?Trees have offered a place to meet in many cultures, often becoming a focus of community life. Here we have wrapped the tree design around the theatre to create the same symbolic effect and a landmark within the local community.
?But as well as being an opportunity for Tara Arts to express its ethos through its building as much as it does through its work, the design concept has been guided by the more practical needs of squeezing as much accommodation as possible from the modest building envelope, including providing a new rehearsal space and a new additional attic storey, as well as making the venue more energy-efficient, sustainable and fully accessible.??
The original Garratt Lane terrace frontage will be retained and a new ??box?? structure that provides the additional accommodation at the upper levels will be added, creating a new 400 sq m facility.
Established in Earlsfield since 1983, Tara Arts has offered theatre, comedy, poetry and other live performance events from a 50 seat venue in a converted Victorian terrace in the London Borough of Wandsworth.
Jatinder Verma, Artistic Director at Tara Arts said: ?356 Garratt Lane is home to Tara Arts, its audiences, artists and staff. After 30 years of hard use, it is time to renovate our home to provide more comfortable, energy-efficient and inspiring facilities. Theatres are places where communities come together to tell and share stories. In the 21st Century, we believe theatres need to be intimate, comfortable and inspiring spaces as well.
?RHWL Arts Team??s design reflects our vision to create an imaginative fusion of the global and the local ?? from the external design to the configuration of the performance, rehearsal and public spaces. The tree theme is an inspired motif and perfectly complements our earth floor performance space ?? the first in the country.??
The project is being funded principally by Arts Council England. This is RHWL Arts Team??s first project under the new Arts Council England lottery funding programme.
Construction is due to start in spring 2013 and the new building is expected to open in early 2014.