Is social distancing a death knell for arts venues? Oliver Wainwright thinks there's too much acceptance of the problem and too little imagination in terms of how it could be done differently.
Packed shoulder to shoulder with your neighbour, elbows jostling for position on the armrest, knees pressed up against the seat in front, your view blocked by a column – the West End theatre experience can be claustrophobic at the best of times. Now that theatres have been given the green light to reopen, with their share of a £1.5bn support fund in the offing, how on earth can these historic venues adapt to a socially distanced post-Covid future?
For Cameron Mackintosh, the hit musical producer and owner of eight historic theatres in London’s West End, it’s an impossible prospect. “Until social distancing doesn’t exist any more, we can’t even plan to reopen,” he said in June, when he announced that all of his venues would remain shuttered until at least 2021. For an industry that relies on packing people in as tightly as possible to create an electric atmosphere, social distancing is surely its death-knell.
Scottish architect John McAslan thinks there might be another way, and that theatre designers are well placed to rise to the challenge... Keep reading on the Guardian