Southgate School Drama Theatre & Refectory
Southgate School in north London is a well respected state high school with over 1600 pupils. The school’s successful drama department was short of two dedicated teaching spaces. The school hall – which is used at lunchtimes by the over-subscribed canteen, and as an exam venue – was also used by the drama department as a teaching area. This caused difficulties at cross over times, with timetable clashes and lack of teaching privacy.
Curtis Wood Architects were commissioned by the school in 2002 to undertake a feasibility study to see how the drama requirements could be resolved alongside an increase in canteen capacity. We were also asked to consider changes to the reception space to increase security, creation of a meeting room and provision of a professional greeting point for all visitors.
The resultant design proposed a new drama block, housing a flexible ‘black box’ theatre, which could be easily subdivided into two teaching spaces with sliding acoustic walls. The new building would accommodate school and professional theatre productions, and through specialized seating systems concealed within deep storage walls, could allow raked seats to be pulled out quickly for whole school assemblies, which was previously not possible. The new black box theatre allowed the existing school hall to be given over to the canteen, where a full reorganisation was planned; two storey high galleried canteen spaces, efficient queuing and servery facilities and long canteen tables sought to dramatically increase capacity, efficiency and staff control within the space.