The concept was simple. The execution, a little less so. Build a venue entirely out of found and recycled materials, and use it to host 8 shows for a month. Without any electricity of course.
As you may have discovered already, The Greenhouse was the first-ever zero-waste performance venue in the UK. The idea behind was really simple — we wanted to show just how easy it can be to live and work in a sustainable way, once we set our minds to it!
It was important to us that the venue reflected the ethos of the project — not just in terms of acting sustainably, but in terms of sparking discussion, sharing ideas, and strengthening connections to the natural world. The result was an in-the-round space with a clear roof that connected the audience directly both to each other and to the outside world. The shows literally changed with the weather, making each performance unique, and deeply dependent on the natural world around it.
The Problem is The Solution
A handy little mantra, isn’t it? You can thank our Head of Build from 2019, it was his idea. You see, the problem is very much that we generate too much waste, both at the Fringe and beyond. But for us, it was also kind of the solution. All that waste could be harnessed and repurposed to help build something beautiful.
Foyer: A re-purposed shed, collected from an Edinburgh resident who wanted rid of it.
Walls — frames: Timber from a lumber yard that was going out of business and was throwing their wood away.
Walls — sheathing: Stripped pallets, repurposed to make walls.
Doors: From the same lumber yard as the timber.
Benches: MoveOn Wood Recycling had a lot of old decking wood, which we were able to make use of.
Fixtures: Most of our fixings came from the same lumber yard as our timber, and from the surplus of various building projects.
Roof: Mostly corrugated PVC surplus to requirements of building projects. Some corrugated tin, also surplus to requirements.
Paint: Collected from community paint re-use schemes.
Facts and Figures
- Octagonal wooden structure, supported by a square of lighting truss, with a clear apex roof.
- Lighting truss skeleton for the structure is modular — it can form a cube with sides ranging from 5m up to 8m. It therefore has a footprint of a square with sides between 7m and 9m.
- Images on this page are from the Fringe 2019, when the cube we used had sides of 6.5m. It had a footprint of a square with sides of 8m.
- The venue is 2m tall at its lowest point. At it’s highest point, it is 2.5m tall.
- The venue has a capacity of between 30 to 55 people.
- The venue is completely electricity-free, as it is totally naturally lit. That means no pesky amplified music, and no flashing lights.
- We prioritise ensuring level access at the venue and make provision for many other access requirements — to get an idea of the ongoing access capabilities of The Greenhouse, take a look at the access page from Edinburgh Fringe 2019. Educational and social events are always free, while tickets to our shows are never more than £5, to ensure financial access.