Dundee Repertory Theatre, Building image, Architect, Scotland, Project, Photo, Design

Dundee Rep Theatre Building

Scottish Theatre : Refurbishment by Nicoll Russell Studios, Tayside, East Scotland, UK

post updated 13 September 2021 ; 17 Feb 2010

Location: Dundee, eastern Scotland

Dundee Rep Theatre Information

Renewal Design: Nicoll Russell Studios

Dundee Rep Theatre building at night
Dundee Rep photos from Nicoll Russell Studios

Dundee Rep Theatre

The Rep could be considered as our architectural manifesto because it illustrates our interest in: craft, place making, context, appropriateness, humanity, sensitivity, and detail all in a single project which sets out to inspire its resident actors and heighten the experience of its audiences.

It reverently completes Dundee’s only Georgian square located immediately east of the University, and cleverly conceals the scale of the fly tower on the diagonal at the rear of its almost square plan. The Rep honestly underlines how it was constructed with an almost brutalist pride, but it is the Rep’s dramatic engagement with its audience, which is perhaps it most important architectural legacy.

Dundee Rep Theatre bar interior

A two storey glazed elevation firstly presents a ‘shop window’ to the square. This elevation is partly angled to engage with the pedestrian desire line across the square and illustrates the journey of the audience from the entrance, via the box office, up a grand staircase or wall climber lift, which are both externalised, to the interval bar at first floor level and finally to the auditorium beyond.

Dundee Rep Theatre building interior

On the night of a performance the Rep seems to inhabit the square, drawing the audience into its embrace, and heightening the buzz of their anticipation as they climb and are seen to approach the auditorium. Once the visitor is within the building a very compact foyer links all the public spaces on the ground and first floors, set below a stepped concrete ceiling formed by the auditorium above. These spaces are all the more dramatic because of their compact size.

Even a modestly successful performance seems full. The buzz in the two storey foyer is heightened by the voids either side of the interval bar which is formed as a bridge linking the left and right hand sound lobbies. These lobbies step down the scale and lead the audience into the magical world of the theatre, which they literally touch by seeming to emerge onto the stage itself before taking their seats in a sudden hush.

Dundee Rep Theatre building lighting at night

Dundee Rep Theatre images / information from Nicoll Russell Studios

Dundee Rep Theatre – Further Information

The original building was completed in 1982. It had a 450-seater auditorium. An extension completed in 1992 added a Dance Studio, workshop, wardrobe, rehearsal facilities.

In late 1998 the Dundee Rep was awarded a Scottish Arts Council Lottery Grant towards its proposed £3.2m cost.

The theatre expansion was designed to improve the auditorium, upgrade facilities, aid accessiblity. The new theatre was completed in Oct 2000.

Dundee Rep Theatre building lighting
Dundee Rep Theatre building image from RSA Jun 05

The company began in 1939 but its building burnt down in 1963. Land was donated by Dundee University to allow building work to start in 1979.

Key Architectural Awards for this Tayside Arts building:

Civic Trust Award 1984
RIBA Award 1986

Location: Dundee, Tayside, Eastern Scotland

Dundee Architecture

Dundee Architecture Designs – chronological list

Dundee Architectural Designs – architectural selection below:

V&A at Dundee
V&A Dundee

Water’s Edge, Camperdown Street
Design: Nicoll Russell Studios
Water’s Edge Dundee by Nicoll Russell Studios
photo : Fraser Band, courtesy of Nicoll Russell Studio architects practice
Water’s Edge Dundee Building

Dundee House
Design: Reiach and Hall Architects
Dundee House civic offices building
image © Dave Morris
Dundee Council Offices Building

Scottish Architecture

Dundee Repertory Theatre Refurbishment : Nicoll Russell Studios

Scottish buildings by Nicoll Russell Studios – Selection
Byre Theatre, St Andrews
Dundee Rep Theatre
Scottish Dance Theatre

Dundee Contemporary Arts
Richard Murphy Architects
Dundee Contemporary Arts

Queen Mother Building, Dundee University Campus
Page/Park Architects
Dundee University building

Comments / photos for the Dundee Rep Theatre page welcome

Dundee Repertory – Website: www.dundeereptheatre.co.uk