New Chester Theatre, England Arts Building, UK Library Design, Architect

Chester Theatre : Building

Arts Venue in Cheshire, northwest England, UK – design by Bennetts Associates Architects

Chester Theatre : latest information, 16 Oct 2013

4 Sep 2012

New Chester Theatre Building

Design: Bennetts Associates Architects


Cheshire West and Chester Council has unveiled Bennetts Associates’ proposals for a new £40 million theatre and library in Chester.

Chester Theatre Building
image © Bennetts Associates Architects

The scheme, on a site in the centre of the historic city, includes the transformation of the redundant Grade II listed Odeon cinema which dates from 1936. Facilities to be provided include:

• a new 800-seat auditorium with the flexibility to create a 500-seat thrust stage format for a mix of touring and in-house productions
• a 200-seat second performance space
• a new public library, accessible from the theatre foyer
• two studio cinemas, 120 and 80 seats
• cafes and bars

The studio theatre, foyer and cafes and bars will be housed within the restored Art Deco interior of the Odeon cinema. Locating the central library alongside the theatres will bring new audiences and supports the client’s aspiration for activity on the site throughout the day and evening.

Chester Theatre Building
image © Bennetts Associates Architects

Simon Erridge, Director at Bennetts Associates commented: “This is an immensely challenging project involving sensitive restoration and refurbishment alongside the creation of a brand new theatre. The innovative approach of bringing theatres, cinemas and a library together under one roof will create a major cultural focus for Chester as well as bringing a threatened historic building back into use.”

The Council will make an initial application for Arts Council funding in September and aim to submit a planning application for the project in summer 2013, with the new facilities opening in spring 2016.

The team behind the new Chester Theatre building project includes:

Architects: Bennetts Associates
Theatre consultants: Charcoalblue
Engineers: Buro Happold
Project managers: Buro Four

New Chester Theatre images / information from Bennetts Associates Architects

17 Jul + 13 Jun 2012

Chester Theatre Building

Design: Bennetts Associates Architects


The award-winning team behind the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s world-famous home at Stratford-upon-Avon is to provide the concept design of Chester’s new theatre.

Chester Theatre Building
image © Cheshire West and Chester Council

Recently commissioned, this project is in feasibility design stage for a £38m theatre and library. The scheme will reuse a Grade 2 listed art deco cinema building and is located in the heart of Chester. It draws on the practice’s experience at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and current work for Clwyd Theatre in Wales and The Old Vic Theatre in London.

For Cheshire West and Chester Council with Buro Four, Buro Happold and Charcoalblue.

Council chiefs today (Wednesday) raised the curtain on a star cast assembled to produce a guiding vision for the Borough’s £38m showpiece.

Bennetts Associates Architects – one of the UK’s leading architectural practices – will work on the concept design, supported by specialist theatre consultants Charcoalblue and multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy Buro Happold.

All three worked on the transformation of the Grade II* listed Royal Shakespeare Theatre – a sensitive, multi-award-winning project incorporating the most significant remains and character of the earlier theatres on site with revolutionary theatre design techniques.

They join international specialist project managers, Buro Four, which also worked on the renowned redevelopment of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and have an extensive track record in the arts and heritage fields.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre – also by Bennetts Associates + Charcoalblue:
Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford
photo : Stewart Hemley

Said Cheshire West and Chester Council Leader Mike Jones: “I’m delighted. I believe we have secured an unrivalled blend of expertise and flair- talent that will produce a state-of-the art theatre vital to our aspirations as an international visitor centre.”

The concept team will contribute to the Council’s bid for £5m, due to go to the Arts Council when the next funding window opens, probably within the next two months.

If it is decided to incorporate a new central library within the one acre site, details of the schemes will be included as part of the bid.

Today (Wednesday) Bennetts Associates Architects Director Simon Erridge, said: “This is one of the most important theatre projects in the UK at the moment and we can’t wait to get started.

“Building a new theatre is a fantastic opportunity in any city; attracting new and diverse audiences, providing a cultural focus, and influencing the character of its surroundings.

“Chester’s site is superbly located in the historic city centre. By working in and around the existing listed buildings, we have the opportunity to create a unique new theatre which retains strong links with the city’s rich heritage.”

Buro Four are already engaged in developing a foundation strategy for Chester’s new theatre, due to open its doors at the city’s former Odeon Cinema in December 2015.

Said Project Leader David Boles: “Working with the Council, we have assembled a team with the experience and skills to bring this project together on time and within budget.”

Local Councillor Samantha Dixon has continually maintained that Chester should aim for a theatre of international reputation.

“These appointments suggest to me that my aspiration now has every possibility of becoming a reality – and that can only be good for the people of this Borough” she said.

Buro Four also worked on London’s Young Vic Theatre and Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts; Liverpool’s Bluecoat and Florence Institute, Derby Visual Arts Centre, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre and Victoria Baths and Gorton Monastery in Manchester.

Bennetts’ portfolio includes the Hampstead Theatre and Swiss Cottage Masterplan, and the Old Vic Theatre, Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Theatre Clwyd and Brighton’s Jubilee Library and Masterplan.

STORY NOTE: At the heart of the re-developed Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a new 1,000-seat thrust stage auditorium has revolutionised the way audiences experience live theatre. Its public spaces are accessible and welcoming, and its relationship with the town has been reinvigorated by the creation of the tower, new external spaces and routes.

Chester Theatre images / information from Bennetts Associates Architects

Chester Theatre design : Bennetts Associates

Another English theatre building design by Bennetts Associates on e-architect:

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, England
Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford-upon-Avon
image © Peter Cook
Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Location: Chester, Northwest England, UK

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