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Higham Hill Theatre

As part of Waltham Forest‘s Making Places initiative, vPPR transformed a leftover corner of Higham Hill Park into a playful community amphitheatre, creating new links to the surrounding amenities.

 

2019

 

Photography © Lewis Ronald

Process

 

The design consists of simple linear benches facing a stage, interrupted by a low central circular stage, introducing flexibility for different kinds of performances – formal or informal, end stage or in the round. The central circular space is a social space that can be shared by performers, audience or informal gathers alike. The playful arrangement encourages both everyday play and formal performances for the community.

 

The purity of the theatre’s geometry, its low height measuring only 400mm, and its singular materiality of pigmented concrete is a sensitive response to the surrounding park. Its pigmented earthy-tone references the colour of the soil and strengthens its relationship to the surrounding park. The theatre benefits from the natural scenery of the park, enclosed with hedges at low level and a crown of trees above, with horizontal views beyond.

 

The theatre makes new connections between an adjacent café, by introducing new double glass doors to a brick wall; to a playground by creating a gate where there was a fence before; and introduces new landscaping including plants, hedges, paving and grass around the theatre itself. By visually, physically and programmatically connecting the surrounding amenities to the theatre, the space becomes a piece of social infrastructure.

 

vPPR selected the site because it was a forgotten parcel of the park, used for anti-social behaviour. By re-activating the site, and creating links to the park amenities, the place is transformed into a site of creativity and play.