Located in the annexe of the Victorian Grade II listed Smallwood Primary School based in Tooting, Oily Cart theatre works entirely with children, many of whom have complex disabilities and often attend special needs schools. The theatre group aims to provide cultural stimulation for these often under-serviced audiences.
Stirling Prize nominated architects, Hawkins\Brown, worked with the Oily Cart theatre to create an inspiring and playful scheme in keeping with the theatre’s ethos. The complete development of Oily Cart productions is housed in the annexe, from inception and management through to prop building, costume design and rehearsals. The scheme dramatically improves workshop, rehearsal and storage facilities for the theatre and reconfiguration of spaces as well as improving working conditions within office spaces.
The original theatre had poor accessibility for its occupants and one of Hawkins\Brown major interventions was the addition of an external lift with patterned anodised aluminium panels to access the first floor of the theatre, formerly only accessible via an external staircase.
Bold colours were used throughout the theatre to aid with orientation around the spaces and a new mezzanine level insert was added to the building that acts as a flexible meeting room, as well as clean and dirty workshops to make all of the necessary props, sets and costumes for the theatre.
The resulting building creates an inspiring, bright and tactile space for children to lean and play, as well as reusing and recycling materials and found objects from the site.
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