Shortlisted for Public Building Project of the Year: This theatre is designed to reflect the landscape surrounding it

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, London submitted by RHWL Architects

Located yards from the train station on the edge of the town centre and emerging in splendid isolation from its prominent traffic island site, Aylesbury Theatre is an unmissible new urban gateway and cultural landmark for visitors and residents alike. Its curved form, configured to resemble the Chiltern Hills, is resolutely lined with pronounced, full-height timber stanchions that surround its glazed drum like stained pillars. These have the appropriately theatrical impact of a sacrificial cultural altar. Yet with regard to both form and materials it remains an endearingly organic building. Despite their angular layout, the auditorium and the spatially dynamic, multi-level foyers are lavishly lined with varnished wood, providing a sense of natural intimacy and forest-like enclosure throughout. And the entire building rises from a sculpted, undulating slate plinth that forms an elliptical, cave-like orifice at the entrance. It is a gesture reminiscent of the whimsical naturalism of Gaudí and sets the tone for a building that combines richly iconographic design with strong civic presence.

Project team

Architect: RHWL
Client: Aylesbury Vale District Council
Contractor: Willmott Dixon
Project Manager: Gardiner & Theobald
Structural Engineer: Ramboll Whitby Bird
Quantity Surveyor: Rider Levett Bucknell
Acoustic Consultant: Arup Acoustics
Landscape Consultants: Hankinson Duckett Associates
CDM Coordinators: Goddard Consulting

Each day in the lead up to the Building Awards ceremony next month, we will profile one of the finalists in the Project of the Year and Public Building Project of the Year. The winners will be announced as the Building Awards ceremony taking place on April 7. To book a table at the Building Awards visit the web site here.