• Architecture
  • Arts

Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester


We were initially invited to work on this project in 1973 by a nascent theatre company, which had a revolutionary vision for an immersive theatre-in-the-round. They found a home for this concept in the Royal Exchange, a vast, regal, three-domed Edwardian building in the centre of Manchester. Originally built to trade cotton, it had closed in 1968 and its Grade II listing ruled out many conventional uses.

From the start, we envisaged a lightweight structure boldly inhabiting the space, its modernity in stark contrast to the traditional splendour of the hall. The seven-sided construction spans between existing columns to avoid loading the floor and an odd number of facets ensures that members of the audience do not directly face each other. The original design was completed in 1976, and twenty years later, following the 1996 IRA bomb, we were invited back to restore the hall and make further adjustments to the theatre itself.

For more details, read our Project Story.

Project Details:

A unique, ambitious, seven-sided theatre-in-the-round, designed within a grand Edwardian Cotton Exchange in Manchester.

Client: Royal Exchange Theatre Company

Construction Value: £18.5m

Completion: 1976 (first works) and 1998 (second works)

Location: Manchester


  • Civic Trust Awards 2000: Commendation
  • RIBA Awards 1977: Winner
  • The Times RICS Conservation Awards 1977: Commendation
  • Structural Steel Classics Awards 1906-86: Recipient

Image: Matthew Weinreb