Chichester Festival Theatre

Construction year: 1962, 2014
Address: Oaklands Park | CHICHESTER | United Kingdom
Latitude/Longitude: 50.84308, -0.77734

Haworth Tompkins have completed a major restoration and renewal of the Grade 2* listed Chichester Festival Theatre, incorporating a carefully remodeled auditorium, bigger foyer spaces, an improved parkland setting and a new back of house extension. Originally designed as a ‘pavilion in the park’ summer festival venue by the distinguished British architects Powell and Moya, the innovative open stage auditorium was inspired by Tyrone Guthrie’s Festival Theatre in Stratford Ontario and was the UK’s first thrust stage performance space, seating over 1300 people.

The theatre’s dramatic, cantilevering concrete structure and lightweight cable-tied roof remain bold architectural statements, but successive piecemeal extensions and alterations since the 1970s had gradually reduced the clarity and legibility of the original concept. Our approach has been to restore the parkland setting, clear away all the non-original structures, enlarge the foyer with two new cafe/bar extensions and re-house the back of house facilities within a new extension, complementing Powell and Moya’s rough concrete with an equally dramatic facade of Cor-Ten weathering steel.

Visual artist and regular collaborator Antoni Malinowski has hand painted the cafe ceilings and various walls within the foyer to complement the geometries of the existing structure and to amplify the presence of the surrounding landscape. The auditorium has been significantly remodeled to improve sightlines, increase theatrical intensity and provide a far more technically sophisticated and adaptable environment for theatre makers.

Text © Haworth Tompkins

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