nor'THEATRE – Portobello, Edinburgh © Rachel Catherine Kelly

nor'THEATRE – Portobello, Edinburgh

Rachel Catherine Kelly

Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Project Description

nor’THEATRE is an architectural exploration into northmanship and performance. The building celebrates the theatricality of every-day life. Its architecture fosters an ever-changing maze of intertwining gazes that is the product of fundamental social interactions within the community. This project considers how a small-scale performance space could be reconceived as a public square. A place where people gather, to share ideas. Where people perform and are performed to.

The theatre sits within a masterplan providing civic spaces for the community. Inspired by the burrowing clay seams of Portobello’s soil, the civic pathway burrows through the existing fabric of the site. The buildings define the edges of exterior spaces; they serve external rooms.

The building has three architectural typologies: Stage, Curtain, and Players. The Stage provides a stepped platform for performance. The Curtain is a protective brick covering. The Players are zinc-clad auditoria, places of respite from the performance of everyday life.

Sustainability Agenda

Longevity and adaptability are at the centre of the nor’THEATRE’s design. The architecture is deliberately flexible to ensure that the space both in and around the building can be used in a variety of ways. Moreover, the landscaped ground of the building carves the project into the site. The containers that sit upon the stage could change in form or function, or be removed entirely, and the ground will continue to provide a theatrical public space where the community gathers.

The sustainable agenda of the building is enhanced further by the passive ventilation of the performance spaces. The northern wind and cool air is utilised to ensure the interior comfort of the building. The system of passive ventilation shapes the external form of the auditoria. The collection of pitched roofs and chimneys alongside the viewing tower creates a miniature skyline which is reminiscent of the old industrial skyline of Portobello.