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National Theatre reveals changes to South Bank building

The National Theatre has unveiled its plans to alter its South Bank home, creating a new entrance on the riverside, a roof garden and a new paint shop building on Upper Ground.

National Theatre
A new paint shop building - with glazed end elevations - will replace the current car park ramp on Upper Ground
National Theatre
The north-eastern corner of the building will be glazed and a new cafe created to bring life to the area

A small public exhibition of proposals created by architects Haworth Tompkins was held in the theatre's foyer last weekend.

As we reported last year, the plans include the relocation of the NT bookshop away from the riverside to allow a clearer entrance to be created.

A new cafe on the theatre's north-eastern corner, next to the IBM building, will bring life to part of the facade currently dominated by vehicles and rubbish bins.

Perhaps the most radical change is on the Upper Ground side, where a new paint shop building will replace the current car park entrance, allowing passers-by to see work in progress on scenery for the NT's productions. The new building would also relieve the fortress-like appearance of the building's southern side.

The car park entrance would be moved into Theatre Avenue, next to BFI Southbank, and the number of public parking spaces reduced to allow goods in and waste disposal to be accommodated underground.

The current space used by coaches as a parking area would be eliminated, with two managed drop-off bays provided instead. The NT's research shows that few of the coaches which currently wait outside the theatre are actually bringing visitors to the NT, with most arriving empty on the South Bank.

As part of the plan the theatre's Baylis Terrace could be covered in lawns and shrubs to create a new roof garden.

The theatre is seeking to raise approximately 50 million from private donors to allow the works to proceed. A planning application to Lambeth Council is expected in June. Work could start in autumn 2011.

Theatre bosses hope to complete the new paint shop in 2013 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the original National Theatre company.

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