• National Theatre, London
  • National Theatre, London
  • National Theatre, London
  • National Theatre, London
  • Inside the Dorfman Theatre (image credit - Philip Vile)
  • Furnished Seating (image credit - Philip Vile)
  • Low Rake Seating in the Dorfman (image credit - Philip Vile)
  • Dorfman Theatre Exterior (image credit - Philip Vile)
  • Sketches depicting rake seating (image credit - Charcoalblue)

Increasing capacity and flexibility in this 20th century masterpiece 

National Theatre, London


Project summary


The National Theatre’s monumental London home was designed by Sir Denys Lasdun and opened in 1976. After more than thirty years of intensive use it has been refurbished and improved under the guidance of its Artistic and Executive Directors, Nick Hytner and Nick Starr.


The Cottesloe Theatre has re-opened as the Dorfman Theatre with improved audience comfort, foyer space and with new education spaces adjacent to the theatre. Around 130 seats have been added to the auditorium capacity, taking it to around 460. This includes 150 seats in the ‘pit’ area which fold into boxes, with each row mounted on an individual elevator. This makes it possible to quickly reconfigure the auditorium between a steep rake, shallow rake or flat floor.


As theatre consultants to the National Theatre, Charcoalblue’s involvement included assessing the impact of the refurbishment proposals on the planning of the building, and providing detailed sightline studies, auditorium planning and designing technical systems and bespoke seating to support the scheme.


A video of the team behind the transformation of the Dorfman Theatre discussing the project is available