John Riddell:
An Introduction to Spacecraft - 
the Workplace Design Podcast

This week on the SpaceCraft podcast, Dan Moscrop interviews John Riddell, an expert in theatre design and planning from Theatre Projects.

In the first part of the conversation, John iintroduces Theatre Projects, the company he works for, and explains the various services they provide related to designing and building performing arts centers around the world. This includes theatre design and planning, theatre equipment like lighting and sound systems, acoustics consulting, and more. He discusses the typical process of getting involved in projects from the early stages or getting brought in later when an architecture team needs their expertise.

John then talks about working with different architects, both large firms like Foster and Zaha Hadid as well as smaller specialists in theatre design and architecture. He emphasizes the educational aspect of their role, explaining nuances of different performance space types to the design teams. The conversation shifts to discussing the importance of public spaces like foyers and how modern theatres treat these as vibrant social hubs in their design.

Later, Johnshares insights from his academic research analyzing over 100 venues, often finding that a piecemeal approach to refurbishments instead of holistic planning can lead to issues in theatre architecture and workplace design. They discuss the evolution of technology in theatres, the demanding environment of theatre work that can lead to burnout, and how office spaces are sometimes neglected compared to performance spaces. John also provides an overview of his PhD research on theatre spaces in Northern Ireland.

Finally, they cover theatre acoustics in-depth, with John explaining different acoustic priorities for speech versus music venues and the impact of factors like reverberation, reflections, noise isolation and mechanical system sound on architecture and workplace design. He closes with thoughts on allowing flexibility in office design for unanticipated uses by occupants.