Liverpool Everyman

The Everyman is a new theatre for an internationally regarded producing company designed by Haworth Tompkins and was re-opened in 2014 winning the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize for best new building. It is now a much greener and sustainable new theatre.

The jointly run Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse have an illustrious history as producing theatres, both occupying mid-19th century buildings, which were in need of major renovation.

The new Everyman includes a 400 seat adaptable auditorium; Ev 1 - a studio for youth, education and community activities; a large rehearsal room; public foyers, catering and bar facilities, along with supporting offices, workshops and ancillary spaces.

The Everyman holds an important place in Liverpool culture. The original theatre was housed in an 1837 chapel and had become a central creative hub for the Liverpool's dynamic community. With its popularity in mind, it became increasingly apparent that the building needed to make room for an ever expanding public programme and needed complete redevelopment.

Capital Development

The new Everyman was 10 years in the planning and took over two years to build. Funding was secured from various sources:

  • £16.8 million from the Arts Council's Large Capital Grant Programme
  • £5.9 million from the European Regional Development Fund
  • £2.5 million from the Northwest Regional Development Agency
  • over £1.9 million of private funding

The new building opened in March 2014 to great acclaim from audiences and critics, winning various awards including the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize, the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize, and, along with the architects Haworth Tompkins, the 2014 WAN Performing Spaces Award, which recognises and rewards the most inventive, imaginative designs conceived for the performing arts. It also achieved an ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method).

The original Everyman Liverpool was housed in a chapel built in 1837. Having initially considered a new build project in a much larger and more expensive building on a new site, the project evolved into a reuse of the existing site extended by the acquisition of the adjoining building and a small parcel of land to the rear. The existing structures were dismantled and the nineteenth century bricks salvaged for reuse as the shell of the new auditorium. A dense design both made the most efficient use of the existing site footprint and transformed what was originally there.

Heating and Ventilation

The new Everyman uses a highly sustainable, largely natural ventilation system throughout, notably in the auditorium where air is finally exhausted through the four brick chimneys at the top of the building. Where mechanical ventilation could not be avoided, principally in the basement bistro, heat is recovered from extract air and used to warm fresh air being brought into the building. The auditorium heating comes from air source heat pumps, like fridges in reverse, extracting heat from the outside air and delivering it inside at much higher efficiency than gas boilers. A small scale gas fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit generates electricity and uses the heat generated for hot water and space heating. Offices and ancillary spaces are ventilated via opening windows and vents at high level.

The fully exposed concrete structure and reclaimed brickwork walls provide excellent thermal mass (thermal mass enables buildings to absorb and release heat in step with its daily heating and cooling cycle), while the orientation and fenestration design optimises solar response - the entire west façade is designed as a large screen of moveable sunshades.


Where possible LED lights are used, providing the same light as the old 60W tungsten lamps but using only 8W. They can also be dimmed to different levels depending on time of day and use, reducing energy used and giving warmer light as they are dimmed.


The demolition of the old building was largely by hand, maximising the amount of materials that could be recycled, including bricks to be re-used in the new building. 25,000 bricks from the old Everyman were used; bar, counters and table tops are made from Iroko wood recycled from old laboratory bench tops; the sliding doors re-use timber from the shuttering used to cast the board marked concrete around the building; flooring in the theatre is made from recycled rubber and back of house flooring from a mix of recycled cork and rubber.

Timber used throughout is from sustainable sources and carries Forest Stewardship Council certification or equivalent. The concrete uses ground granulated blast furnace slag, much less carbon intensive than conventional concrete (GGBFS is a by-product from the production of iron which uses 80 per cent less energy and generates 93 per cent less carbon emissions in extraction, production and transportation). Where possible the products used for finishes have low Volatile Organic Compound emissions.


Rainwater is collected from the roof, filtered and used to flush toilets, reducing mains water consumption for flushing by up to 45 per cent per year. Aerated taps, dual flush toilets, leak detection and occupancy triggered shut-off valves also help to conserve water.


Despite its urban location, the Everyman was also able to undertake a number of nature conservation and biodiversity enhancement measures. The demolition of the old building largely by hand, ensured that bats were not harmed. The new building includes bat boxes and swift nesting boxes integrated into the brickwork below the chimneys and with beehives on the roof, Everyman honey will be available soon.

Environmental Steps

The steps taken to reduce environmental impacts during construction included:

  • recycling 98.6 per cent of demolition waste
  • recycling 89 per cent of construction waste
  • monitoring site energy and water use and the impact of transport to site
  • appointing a biodiversity champion to the site team to prevent harm to any flora and fauna


The new Everyman has been assessed using the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, BREEAM, as part of the commitment to ensure the building is as environmentally sustainable as possible. Buildings are rated on a five level scale; Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding. The Everyman has achieved Excellent.

Everyman Liverpool’s sustainable new building now acts as a ‘creative hub’, enabling the Everyman to realise it artistic, accessibility and environmental vision. In addition to providing employment and training of apprentices in the construction process, it is a fully accessible public building and has created space for the Everyman to continue and expand education and community work and workspace to support local writers.


Sustaining Creativity