The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, established for over a century, was beginning to show its age. Audiences traditionally strolled to the enclosure through one of London’s loveliest parks but once inside, romantic expectations were confounded by overgrown vegetation, a confusing path network, and array of refuse stores obtrusive car parking and decrepit buildings all of which now marred the magic of performances.

Recreating the original innocence and eccentricity of this special theatre fell to Camlin Lonsdale and Haworth Tompkins, who in the most seamless of collaborations, wove a new costume for the theatre in which vegetation becomes architecture and buildings grow as living things.

They had only six months, working closely with Royal Parks Agency, to complete works including extensive tree removal, in time for the forthcoming season of productions.

Where the stimulation of a performance was previously stifled by unnecessary clutter the new scheme now amplifies the memory of the experience and releases it into the night. It entails a language of trellises and hedges to heighten the effect of an ‘idyllic’ landscape setting. A continuous architectural screen disguises brutalist concrete columns and is covered with flowering climbers and hundreds of tiny lights woven over mesh. Planting is inspired by Shakespearian prose.

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