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Theatre Land

12 Jan 2011

A new year brings a fresh perspective, and as we look forward to the changing seasons and brighter weather there is still the small matter of January and February to deal with. Many retreat to the comfort of the sofa at this time of year; however, there is still a lot to do in this ‘down’ period, especially in the form of arts and culture, a world that takes centre stage in this week’s post.

Theatres are symbols of civic pride, and like the nature of performance, are keen to be the centre of attention. Rapid construction of new theatres in Britain occurred at the beginning of the 21st Century, a time referred to by Tony Blair as the ‘Golden age’ for arts. Glass played a vital role as the core building component during this time as it looked to replace bricks and mortar as the architect’s material of choice.

The Curve Theatre Leicester

Our journey begins in Leicester where the ‘Curve’ theatre, built and designed by renowned Uruguayan-American architect Rafael Viñoly, stands proudly as a cultural beacon amongst the renovated warehouses of the city’s proud past. The building appears to the naked eye as a large bell shape constructed entirely from louvered glass and steel, and this approach to construction allows passersby to view the activity that is going on inside. This £61 million development is a fine example of a modern British theatre, which highlights the different ways that glass can be used to create a large, modern glass building .

The Lowry Theatre Salford

Moving North, The Lowry Theatre in Salford is another great example of contemporary architecture that uses glass to open the building up to the outside world. Constructed in a large circular shape, the building is walled with large glass panels, offering panoramic views of the Manchester ship canal and beyond to those inside, while providing people walking past with a glimpse of what the theatre has to offer. This building stands proudly alongside Imperial War Museum North and can be viewed as a symbol of this once abandoned industrial wasteland’s renaissance.

Up in Glasgow another modern building that uses glass to add transparency is slowly becoming a landmark in its own right. The marshmallow shaped IMAX cinema that stands in the heart of the city’s docklands alongside the Glasgow Science Centre, appears as an out of shape Zeppelin framed by a huge glass wall made up of hundreds of glass panels. We could be forgiven for thinking it was created to house people on the moon, a fact that suggests the future of glass as a core building material is safe for generations to come!

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