LONDON – A small end-terrace theatre in the south-west of London has been updated with an extension by design studio Aedas Arts Team that includes a 100-seater auditorium. The site – which has swapped hands many times in its 125-year existence – has been the home of the performance company Tara Arts since 1983.
In Buddhism, Tara is the goddess of love and art. In Sanskrit, it means ‘shining’ or ‘star’. This word was chosen by Tara Arts as a symbol of different backgrounds coming together to create something wonderful. It is the oldest multicultural theatre company in the country. The architect pays homage to the company’s roots through the physical design for the building’s extension, which comprises accommodation to support rehearsals and upgraded facilities to suit the modern needs of performance art and its audiences.
As much as possible, materials for the renovation were sourced locally. This includes the 7500 bricks used in the auditorium, which were reclaimed from the demolition of the original site when the façade was rebuilt. The performance space features an earth floor, which is similar to poured concrete but in reality offers a more flexible surface to walk on.
The motif of the Banyan Tree – an epiphytic plant which only grows itself because of the sustenance provided by others – refers to India’s ‘tree of life’ and the support and shade it provides to the community. This is ornamented on the front elevation of the new intervention in a StoDeco plasterwork system developed from a material called Verofill, which is made from 96 per cent recycled ash.
The Tara Theatre extension personifies the growth of the Tara Arts performance company and was awarded Project Design of the Year at the 2016 London Construction Awards.