Project Description

A basement at the world’s most iconic theatrical site has been made watertight as part of the £113 million three and half year transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Stratford. With the Grade II listed home of Shakespearean theatre situated on the banks of the River Avon, the water table on the site is high.

This prestigious project involved the construction of a new auditorium and the remodelling of public and back-of house spaces whilst retaining the art deco interiors of the existing foyers.

Project Requirements

With building works overseen by Shaylor Special Projects main contractor Mace was given the task of waterproofing an existing basement used for the storage of scenery and props.

Sika Solution

High performing Sika 1 Pre-bagged Waterproofing System® from global building product manufacturer Sika was specified to prevent water penetration and guard against any future failure.

Due to the age of the building which had parts dating back to 1879, the contractor was faced with a number of different substrates including stone, brick and concrete for this circular basement. All these retaining walls had to be grit blasted prior to the application to create a solid base on to which to apply the waterproofing system. With the walls ready, 350m2 of Sika 1 Pre-Bagged Waterproofing System® to all basement surfaces, including walls and floor.

Sika 1 Pre-bagged Waterproofing System® is hand-applied and incorporates a specially developed admixture which is mixed with blended pre-bagged mortars. When applied to the walls and floors, it reacts with water to turn into a jelly-like substance, blocking all gaps and capillaries, to provide an impenetrable and invisible seal. By bonding monolithically with the substrate, it becomes one with the structure.

As a market-leading system, it has a proven track record of more than 100 years and has been specified for some of the most prestigious and demanding environments, offering a reliable, long-term solution.

The waterproofing system was applied to a high specification ensuring the basement achieved Grade Two in the updated BS 8102:2009 – Code of practice for protection of below ground structures against water from the ground. Sika 1 Pre–bagged waterproofing system® has also been certified by the British Board of Agrément (BBA) to last the life of the building, providing exceptional standards of durability and reliability.

For complete peace of mind, Sika, also offers a comprehensive product warranty when the application is undertaken by a Sika Registered Contractor. This nationwide scheme offers total quality control – from product to service to installation – and grants specifiers, contractors and end users complete peace of mind with a wholly professional service to match the exceptional technical service.

Sika’s innovative online specification tool, SikaSpec®, found at, has also been enhanced with the addition of functionality for the creation of comprehensive waterproofing specifications. Easy to use, the system has been designed to offer an efficient, accurate and reliable method of producing specifications for basement refurbishments, as well as new build projects.

Now open, the new look art deco main theatre at RSC Stratford is a return to the kind of theatre Shakespeare would have been happy with more than 400 years ago. With the basement waterproofing system complete and water tight, Sika has played a vital role in securing the long term future of this Grade II listed theatre and stands as an example of why Sika products are regularly specified to provide the long term protection of buildings.