Open House Festival

Shaftesbury Theatre


Bennetts Associates, 2022

210 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8DP

Built in a Renaissance style with high level Diocletian windows and a prominent grand cupola. In 2016 a new Fly Tower opened followed by remodelling of the auditorium in 2018 and the creation of a new basement space opening in the Autumn.

Getting there


Holborn, Tottenham Court Road, Covent Garden


1, 8, 19, 25, 38, 55, 98, 10, 73, 134, 59, 168



Accessibility notes

There is a lift front of house that takes visitors from the ground floor to the Stalls level, however the tour will take place across all 8 levels of the Theatre and will therefore require mobility across multiple flights of stairs.



The Shaftesbury was the last theatre to be built on Shaftesbury Avenue and was originally named The Princes Theatre. Opening in 1911, it has seen many notable productions and famous faces over the last century and it’s now the largest independent theatre in the West End.

Please note, the tour will include travelling up and down eight flights of stairs with no lift access.

Dramatic Transformation

Since the completion of the spectacular roof-level fly tower extension, which added 35-tonnes of technical capacity and 3000sq ft of much needed additional office space to the Theatre, the focus on the final stage of the building’s remodelling has concentrated on the front of house. This substantial breadth of works have been split into multiple phases of development which continue to be undertaken over several years, while the Theatre continues to perform unabated.

The grand scale of Shaftesbury Theatres’ highly decorative auditorium belies the constricted, complex, and socially divisive foyers which reflect the inequalities of the Edwardian society it was designed to serve. By consciously exposing and reversing these divisions, redundant staircases have been repurposed and opened to increase legibility and improve the visual connectivity between spaces. These careful alterations to the historic fabric have increased legibility for patrons, adding a significant number of toilets in consistent locations throughout the auditorium.

Introducing significant changes to the historic fabric of the building has required a careful balance between retained heritage and improved functionality. This philosophy is exemplified by the recent auditorium remodelling which saw the creation of a new stalls seating layout and the introduction of a crossover corridor which has changed the historic plan form of the auditorium, but has resulted in improved functionality and accessibility for theatre staff and patrons.

London Borough of Camden’s creation of Princes Circus as part of the “West End Project” public realm improvement scheme has facilitated the creation of a dynamic subterranean basement to the building. Located beneath the new public square, the theatre’s new basement opened in Autumn 2022, adding approximately 200m2 of much needed bar, hospitality, toilet and lift facilities, belying the highly restricted footprint of the building.


Civic Trust Awards – Winner 2017
New London Awards – Winner 2016, Culture & Community category
Building Awards – Small Project of the Year (up to £5m) 2016
Camden Design Awards – Winner 2017
RIBA Awards – Winner 2018

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