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De Matos Ryan's theatre refurbishment plays on history

YORK – The York Theatre Royal has undergone a GBP 6 million refurbishment. It is not the first one. Since its construction in 1744, the building has gone through different updates, the most prominent by British modernist Patrick Gwynne in 1967. Although Gwynne passed away in 2003, the current renovation seems oddly in peace with the architect’s values.



London-based firm De Matos Ryan carries Gwynne’s modernist legacy further into the future, helping the theatre to cater for its needs with pure pragmatism and functionality: more space, to host more people, to generate more income. The design process was – of course – user centred, with key stakeholders, staff and selected audience members actively engaged in the process.



All additions to Gwynne’s existing Barbican-meets-Gothic extension fulfil their purpose with excellence. Two new lobbied entrances allow the cultural masses to flow without intermission, granting a warm welcome, as well as a place to gather and orientate. Inside, a terrazzo flooring follows the geometry of medieval vaults, effortlessly combining the past and present to form the York Theatre Royal’s future heritage. The auditorium has been equipped with new seating, while a novel lighting scheme puts everything in the right perspective.



For growing visitor numbers, the theatre café has been relocated closer to the large glass-panelled windows, so that curious passers-by cannot help but be drawn into light.

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