A bit of Waterside History
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre was opened on 12th October 2010 by Cilla Black. It is the crowing glory of Aylesbury's entertainment hub.
Situated in the center of Aylesbury, it has always been surrounded by controversy starting with the massive budget which doubled from the originally quoted £25m to the final £47m.
Also Aylesbury local council subsidize Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) to run and manage the theatre for £1.75m over 5 years. To add salt to the wound, ATG has reported profits exceeding £164m back in 2012.
I'm an Aylesbury local, I am happy for Aylesbury District Council (AVDC) to spend money to lift the town from obscurity to a entertainment hub, but not at the expense of the majority of Aylesbury citizens.
it is my anecdotal opinion that the Aylesbury Waterside prices out many people in the town. I don't know what the demographic is for theatre goers in Buckinghamshire, but there should have been a system were local were given a discount card of some kind.
It is deeply troubling a high profile expenditure by AVDC lacks trasparency as to where the money went, and the strategy of building such an overpriced project.
Is beauty only skin deep?
I needed to state some of the history of Aylesbury Waterside because it is a beautiful building. From the outside it juts forward like an ocean liner.
The vertical and horizontal struts give it a barn like feel where the lights silhouette its design. It is a bold contemporary design that, by all accounts, does not fit in its location.
Aylesbury is still finding its identity after so much renovation in the past 10 years, however the Aylesbury Waterside is going in the right direction. Then, there is the interior design...
An interior that was woefully misjudged
When you first walk into the reception area, it is incredibly underwhelming. The height is fantastic, but it is only admired if you look up! The lighting is unimaginatively flooded. The dark wood is overbearing, it is chaotic; there are angles and details that makes your introduction to the Waterside very "busy".
Moving into the main auditorium is literally shocking.
I am personally disappointed the grandeur of the exterior is not match by the crowded interior. When you walk in, you are hit with a vibrant orange colour scheme. That in itself is good, I love bold colours and much preferable to muted neutral tones. However the staggered wood effect on the walls is terrible.
The architect/clients thought it would be a good idea to swarm the centerpiece of the Aylesbury Waterside with a bizarre log effect! The design is distracting, massively over the top and very disappointing.
Contemporary does not mean classic
I am sure there are many fans of this design, after all somebody thought it was a good idea to spend £45m of Aylesbury tax payer's money on this monstrosity. But this design may will be "cool" for the next 10 years but beyond that I believe this interior will be outdated rapidly.
It is a shame the architect/AVDC (Aylesbury Vale District Council) did not go for a more minimalist approach. They could have used a blank canvas design like the Tate Modern. Use light, artwork, frames, sculptures or "props" to make features of the Aylesbury Theatre.
Personally, I would not want AVDC to spend tax payers money changing the Waterside; there are many more pressing matters in Aylesbury that need their focus. But ultimately I believe this is a case of someone who is clueless about design let loose with a big cheque book making big decisions...