Byre Theatre Fife, St Andrews, Building, Photos, Design, Architect, Architecture, Images

Byre Theatre, St Andrews

New Scottish Theatre in Fife – design by Nicoll Russell Studios, Dundee, Scotland

page updated 10 Sep 2016 ; 17 Feb 2010

Byre Theatre St Andrews

The original theatre was founded in 1933. A new building opened in 1970 and Nicoll Russell Studios completed the current Byre Theatre in 2002.

Byre Theatre Byre Theatre St Andrews Byre Theatre Fife
photos from Nicoll Russell Studios

Opening in June 2001, this competition-winning, lottery-funded Theatre creates a contemporary theatre within a historically sensitive context.

The £4m theatre building includes a 220 seat auditorium and stage with full flying capability, ‘back of house’ accommodation, conference facilities, fully flexible studio theatre, and foyer / restaurant spaces which respond to the existing urban fabric by forging a new link between the differing public realms to the ‘front’ and ‘rear’ of the site.

St Andrews is an architecturally and historically rich town, with unique charms where its fabric and buildings sometimes take on an almost museum like quality. The Byre sits in exactly such an area and fronts one of the principle routes through the town, surrounded by a variety of scales from the five storey St Leonard’s public school to the east, traditional two and a half storey terraced houses along Abbey Street to the north and south, and stone built garden walls and narrow vennels to the west. The Byre of course had its own homespun charms, having grown steadily since its humble beginnings in a cattle shed in 1933, which we felt we should embrace.

Byre Theatre Byre Theatre St Andrews Byre Theatre Fife
photos from Nicoll Russell Studios

The essence of the whole project was therefore to somehow respond to those challenges whilst squeezing a fully functioning theatre, with all its support accommodation, into the assembled site, which was only made up of two domestic feus, whilst creating a sophisticated architectural response and maintaining the spirit of the Byre itself. Our response was borne by a sensitivity to the site as well as our passion for the arts, which allowed us to surgically graft these state of the art facilities, including a two hundred and twenty seat auditorium with a full fly tower, seamlessly into the site and to negotiate the many planning and conservation challenges to eventually realise the building.

The Theatre grows from the existing town’s fabric and houses its oval concrete auditorium under a ‘barn’ roof, with the public functions situated in a glazed vennel linking Abbey Street and a captured garden to the west, on one side of the auditorium, and all the support accommodation located on the other side. The sensitivity of the massing of the building is continued in its appropriate use of natural materials and robust detailing to physically ground it on the site and with its history.

Byre Theatre images / information from Nicoll Russell Studios

Nicoll Russell Studios Building
Byre Theatre – photo © Adrian Welch

New Theatre, St Andrews
Architect: Nicoll Russell Studios
Client: The Byre Theatre of St. Andrews Ltd
Completed: May 2001
Project cost: £3.77m

No larger image, apologies:
NRS Architects, Scotland
Building image © keith hunter from RSA Jun 05

The competition brief in 1995 demanded the creation of “The Best Small Theatre in Scotland”. Increase in audience capacity, vast improvements in technical and production capabilities were sought while retaining an intimacy for which the performance space of the ‘old’ Byre were well known.

Summary of judges’ comments:
An alternative rethinking of the Old Byre Theatre, cleverly inserted in the town fabric. A very comfortable building on a demanding site. The interlinking and interpretations of space provides coherence to the concept. A strong presence and an enhancement of a well used facility.
RIAS information – 27 Sep 2002

Byre Theatre architects : Nicoll Russell Studios

Location:St Andrews ‘

Dundee Architecture

Dundee Architecture Designs – chronological list

Another key St Andrews Building:

Andrew Melville Halls by James Stirling
Andrew Melville Halls
photo © Adrian Welch
Two wings set at an acute angle with student dormitories stepped down section towards the tips from a pivotal core. Description further down page.
Andrew Melville Halls

Scottish Dance Theatre Dundee

Dundee Contemporary Arts
Dundee Contemporary Arts
image from Richard Murphy Architects

Dundee Rep Theatre

Fife Building

Theatre Buildings – designs from around the world

Scottish Theatres

Comments / photos for the Byre Theatre page welcome

Byre Theatre – page


Website: Dundee, Scotland