The main project objectives were to maximise the potential of the stage and fly tower, extend the back-of-house facilities, improve the comfort of the auditorium to seat 1,528 people, while maintaining the building’s historic features.
“We had to shape the new structure around the idiosyncrasies of an old and very individual building. Working in steel made this possible,” says Aedas Arts Team Project Architect Jonathan Williams.
One of the other main components of the scheme was the enlargement of the existing stage house. This involved encasing the existing masonry structure with the new steel and reinforced concrete structure, which will eventually allow for the forming of a significant new opening through the existing rear wall into the new structure, while extending the stage area for future productions.
“One of the client’s main priorities was to widen the proscenium opening to improve the sightlines in the auditorium, enhancing the audience experience and seating value. This became in jeopardy as the main contractor experienced programme slippage and could not accommodate the sectional insitu RC beam that was to be built over the original proscenium girder, making the latter redundant,” explains Conisbee Project Engineer Gavin McLachlan.
“We revisited the design and devised a sectional steel beam that worked compositely with the original girder, and allowed steelwork contractor SDM to work in parallel with other site activities to achieve the client’s aspiration without impacting the overall programme.
The judges say the remodelling of the theatre has been extremely challenging, ensuring that it will remain a prominent venue for years to come.
Photo © Philip Vile