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RIBA awards for Storyhouse and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

04/06/18

The exterior of the Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios-designed Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (photo: Hufton + Crow).

Chester's Storyhouse and the new home of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire have been honoured at the RIBA Regional Awards 2018 - 'given to a UK building for its regional importance as a piece of architecture.'

One of six RIBA North West Award winners, Storyhouse is a converted and extended 1930's Odeon cinema providing 20 public spaces for storytelling including a new adaptable 500-800 seat theatre and a 150-seat studio venue. Inside the old cinema auditorium, the complex includes a new cinema screen, cafe and the city’s relocated library. We worked with long-time collaborators, Bennetts Architects, to design this significant new arts and theatre complex and the largest public building in Chester.

'The theatre design is a radical solution to the flexibility required by the organisation and their business model, namely to show both home-grown productions and larger touring shows. The theatre can morph from an 800-seat proscenium to a 500-seat thrust stage in an ingenious low-tech way,' RIBA said of the project.

“The project is a convincing response to the question of how to activate a town centre through day and night, and of how to make culture fully and widely accessible.”

RIBA on Storyhouse

The exterior of Storyhouse, designed by Bennetts Associates (photo: Peter Cook).

Foyer spaces at Storyhouse, designed by Bennetts Associates (photo: Peter Cook).

Storyhouse includes a new adaptable 500-800 seat theatre, able to transform itself from a summer festival stage into a winter touring proscenium house (photo: Peter Cook).

Inside the old cinema auditorium, the complex includes a new cinema screen, cafe and the city’s relocated library (photo: Peter Cook).

The building will serve the creative community of the area and beyond for decades to come (photo: Peter Cook).

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios provides a new home for one of Europe's leading centres for musical education. Now the project has been awarded a RIBA West Midlands Award. The building includes a 500-seat concert hall which features a stage large enough to accommodate a symphony orchestra and replaces their old Adrian Boult Hall located in the city centre.

'The first purpose-built music college built in the UK since 1987, the new Conservatoire represented not only a rare opportunity to create a state-of-the-art facility fit for the digital era but also to anchor Birmingham City University’s expanding City Centre Campus with a building of civic stature,' wrote RIBA.

“...surely destined to become one of Birmingham’s most actively used and cherished public venues.'”

RIBA on the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

The exterior of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (photo: Hufton + Crow)

The front edge of the concert platform may be extended with demountable risers that are erected above the first row of auditorium seating. These are deployed when a very large orchestra is required (photo: Hufton + Crow).

The 146-seat recital hall has a retractable seating system allowing the space to be transformed to flat floor for exhibitions, ensemble rehearsals or other occasions where a large expanse of floor is required (photo: Hufton + Crow).

Both the 80-seat jazz studio and 100-seat black box experimental project space include motorised internally wired trusses to rig lighting and audiovisual equipment (photo: Hufton + Crow).

John Owens

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