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We workied with architects Haworth Tompkins and timber specialists Xylotek on a pop up theatre for Royal Exchange. The structure, named THE DEN, will travel to various locations in Manchester and the surrounding area for shows with about 150 people.

The central dome moves up and down to allow for lighting and rigging to be put up easily and rearranged etc. The structure comprises larch mini glulams and hardy hemp rope as a tension/bracing member. The lift is carried out by hand turned winches and requires a team to winch in rhythm for a balanced lift. The theatre may be commissioning a lifting song!

Time Lapse Build

Raising the Roof at Stalybridge Civic Hall


“THE DEN is a brand-new pop-up theatre for Greater Manchester communities. It has been designed as an informal space for residents to make and share theatre and to see work from the Royal Exchange. It is a fundamental part of a much bigger programme of work known as LOCAL EXCHANGE, a series of bespoke, long-term residencies that take place across the Greater Manchester boroughs.

The development is a sustainable space which creates the maximum amount of opportunity for creativity whilst always considering the minimum environmental impact. With a stripped back design this new theatre space will honour the essence of the found building, aiming for a genuine environmental and social equity between both spaces. With co-operation at its heart THE DEN will be constructed and operated with the residents of each community, they will help to raise the roof of this unique theatre space, become its ushers, its box office, its technical team and its audience.. full article


Photo of theatre performance courtesy of Royal Exchange Theatre


Chris Wise
Ronan Hunt

Client: Royal Exchange Theatre

Architect: Haworth Tompkins

Status: Complete




The Den – Manchester Royal Exchange Pop Up Theatre