Shakespeare Theatre Gdansk

A Shakespearean Theatre that was built on the site of a 17th century theatre in Gdansk, Poland. 

It has taken almost a quarter of a century for the Shakespearean Theatre in the city of Gdansk in Poland to open to the public. Architect Renato Rizzi used black facing bricks and pavers, this is how he created a new shade and a contrast in the predominantly red brick town. The design was based on the old theatre buildings, complemented with modern technology.
On the outside of the Shakespearean theatre a pair of Gothic elements can be seen, which reflect the style of the old city centre. For the façade, the architect used a dark charcoal brick, the Vandersanden Morvan brick. The black colour represents strength and durability, and contrasts nicely with the brickwork of the surrounding buildings. The pavers around the building are of the exact same colour.


The inside of the theatre is different from what you would imagine. White walls, bright marble stairs and birch wood panelling brighten up the interior. The residents of the city compare the theatre to a treasure chest; solid and heavy on the outside but refined and polished on the inside.
The layout of the building creates a multidimensional framework for the different types of activities, such as theatre performances, meetings, exhibitions and other events. The Shakespearean Theatre is not just a building, it is also a mirror of the city, a maze of narrow corridors (streets), squares (courtyards) and a complex world of different functions.

There are three ways to stage a performance: with an open roof (the Elizabethan style), the traditional setting (the audience is in front of the stage) and an arena layout, the scene is surrounded by the audience and offers seating for about 600 people. The narrow corridors around the audience lead to a large lobby and an outdoor patio. This is where the audience can congregate in the interval. The outdoor roof terraces provide an attractive view that allows you to see the city in a different perspective.
In the outer walls you can see beams in the brickwork. These absorb the load from the sunroof (‘wings’). They reduce the weight of the walls and allow for structural optimization. The high wall hides the theatre’s mechanisms and technical equipment.

The Shakespearean Theatre is an example of new architecture that is closely interwoven with tradition. The theatre has also won an award from the international architecture website Architizer. Vandersanden Group won the jury prize in the Hall/Theatre category for their.

Project information:

Architect: Renato Rizzi

Local office: Q-Arch

Place: Gdańsk, Poland

Floor area: 4000 m²

Vandersanden brick: Morvan Brick

Photography: Rafał Malko