30th Anniversary

BFF 30th Anniversary - New Theatre Royal Portsmouth

The New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth is a Listed Grade II* Theatre, originally designed by Charles Phipps as a Variety Theatre and subsequently remodelled by Frank Matcham as an Opera House.

Burrell Foley Fischer’s restoration comprised the refurbishment of the historic, predominately cast iron, front elevation and remodelling of the auditorium, to include a thrust stage, stalls seating and bringing into use the grand circle and upper circle levels. It received the  “Best Restoration Award – 2005” by the Portsmouth Society.

BFF 30th Anniversary - Academy of Medical Sciences

Burrell Foley Fischer’s refurbishment and remodelling of 41 Portland Place created new headquarters for the Academy of Medical Sciences.  The building is a significant example of a townhouse designed by John Adams and forms part of a Nash’s proposal to create a processional route linking Regent’s Park to former Carlton House, now Carlton House Terrace. 

The building provides a platform for Academy activities.  This includes Academy workspace, meeting rooms, a dedicated room for Fellows, space for small public exhibitions and function rooms with the capacity to host outreach events, receptions, dinners and public engagement activities, and a room suitable for holding press conferences.

In addition to housing the activities of the Academy, the building is used to provide a forum for scientific exchange and networking for medical scientists, clinicians and health professionals from across the world, a centre for lively interaction with press and media, and a welcoming space for members of the public. 

BFF 30th Anniversary - Mary Rose, The Final Voyage

Competition entry for a world-leading museum on the Tudor Navy, based upon the re-uniting of the hull of Henry VIII's flagship, which sunk in the Solent in 1545, with the thousands of conserved objects salvaged from the wreck when it was raised in 1982.

Burrell Foley Fischer’s scheme was designed to protect the Mary Rose in an iconic new home, with a new enclosure to see it, and HMS Victory, all year round.  The site would be restored to a harbourside, with the heritage enhanced and providing a stunning new setting for historic ships.
The structure minimised the final volume requiring critical environmental control and allowed for progressive enclosure, using off site prefabrication.

BFF 30th Anniversary - The Menuhin Hall

The Yehudi Menuhin School provides highly specialised tuition in piano and stringed instruments for about sixty boys and girls aged between 8 and 18 years.  The Menuhin Hall is a new purpose-built, 316 seat concert hall designed with a "supportive acoustic" for the highly gifted, young musicians of the School as well as professional performances and recordings.  It was completed on time and budget and received many awards.

"If I were asked what has been the school's greatest moment over the last twenty one years, I would have to answer - the opening of The Menuhin Hall with Slava Rostropovich conducting the school orchestra.  At last the school has a performing space worthy of an institution with an international reputation, and what a change this has brought to levels of performance."  Nicolas Chisholm Headmaster

BFF 30th Anniversary - New Pym House, Angell Town

Burrell Foley Fischer LLP was appointed in 1999 to design the first new housing at Angell Town, based on our new Masterplan for the Estate.  The 127 new dwellings establish an urban-block layout which integrates the new streets, mews, open spaces, squares and already existing mature landscaping and outdoor sports area, with the existing street pattern and offer routes across the site to connect areas that were formally isolated.

"Could easily be taken for a smart, modern upmarket private development... the generous, intelligent planning of the dwellings themselves should ensure that these do indeed become 'lifetime homes', in every sense of the word".  Housing Design Awards 2000

"The architecture of this community housing for London Borough of Lambeth is exemplary in many ways, but especially in the delightful quality of environment that is created for the users".  RIBA Award for Architecture 2002  

BFF 30th Anniversary - The Almeida Theatre, Islington

Burrell Foley Fischer LLP have been the Almeida’s architects from 1982, shortly after its inception as a theatre in 1980, working with successive generations of Directors.  The Theatre has been developed into a venue of exceptional quality for the performance of drama, opera and music, and for other related arts activities.

Despite its modest size, the space works equally well for performances on an epic scale as for intimate productions.  The audience occupies the same space as the performers and neither is further than twelve metres from the other.

Development works have included extending the backstage accommodation, the building of completely new foyer, bar and technical areas, new services installations and seating, and improved disabled access and acoustics.  The new foyer continues the theme of the former open-air yard where, because of limited site access, the single entrance is used as the foyer for the theatre-goers and as the space for the technical get-ins.

The extensive overhaul of the auditorium, seating capacity 321, has preserved the special ‘found’ quality of the Theatre.  It was awarded a Civic Trust Award 2004.

Robin Fischer the lighting technician at the Almeida has created this short film showing the development of the theatre.

BFF 30th Anniversary - The Royal Society

Since 1999 BFF have worked with the Royal Society on the refurbishment and remodeling of its headquarters at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London.

In 1999 to 2003, we undertook a major refurbishment of this Listed Grade 1 Nash Building to provide a coherent, high profile, architectural setting for the society’s activities. The completed development provided additional facilities for exhibitions, scientific meetings, seminars, media events and video conferencing.

A key intervention was the creation of a new atrium in a former light well on the upper levels as a focus to the new offices and providing space to display an engineering model of the Ariel 1 Satellite.

In 2008 the Practice was responsible for the refurbishment of the Welcome Trust Lecture Theatre which now provides modern lecture facilities, with accommodation for an audience of 300 and of the Dining Room which has a seating capacity of 100 but is also a flexible space that can itself be used for smaller lectures or as an overflow space for the main lecture theatre.

Most recently, in 2009, we were architects for the Royal Society Centre for the History of Science which was created following the refurbishment of the space previously occupied by its library in Carlton House Terrace.  The refurbishment provides study, exhibition and meeting facilities, in an atmosphere that reflects the Society’s commitment to excellence and inspiration whilst equally providing for the safe-keeping of the collections.

Harbour Lights, Southampton - The Art of the Process

John will this afternoon be conducting a tour of the Harbour Lights cinema in Southampton.  A landmark building, constructed in 1995, located in the former P&O docks.  The building was featured in 'The Art of the Process' exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1993.  Colin Davies wrote the following commentary for the accompanying publication.

"On the face of it, a quayside in Southampton Docks is not the obvious place to put a cinema. Seaside buildings are traditionally outward-looking, with big windows from which to scan the distant horizon. But a cinema is essentially a windowless box. Cinema auditoriums are often embedded in the densly packed buildings of a city centre. Only the main entrance and foyer are visible to the passers-by in the street. Burrell Foley Fischer therefore faced two main problems right from the start: how to relate the spaces within the building to the surroundings, and how to give an isolated, windowless box a suitably elegant and eye-catching image.

The key to the solution of the first problem was the foyer. It might be impossible to relate the internal spaces of the auditoriums to their surroundings, but at least the foyer could benefit from the view of the sea, sky and boats. The practice therefore decided to place it on the side of the buildings facing the water. But is went further than that. In the absence of a well-defined public space such as a high street, the architect provided its own public space in the form of a raised platform sloping down from the foyer to the dockside. This could be used for street theatre performances and outside film screenings on summer evenings. In this way, the building would make the most of the positive qualities of the site and give something back for the public's benefit. Site and building would combine to make a new, special place.

The second problem - how to make a windowless box into a public building of public character - demanded a different kind of solution. What were the options? The budget for the building was too small to allow for any great complexity in the form of the building, and in any case the unusual ground conditions, which would require expensive piled foundations, suggested a simple, compact form with a small footprint. Perhaps this was just as well. Ocean Village, despite its romantic name, was a rather disappointingly low-key environment - a scattering of rather nondescript buildings surrounded by car parks. What is needed was a landmark. The regional film theatre might provide it, but it would have to be more than simply a plain box. The answer lay close at hand, in the boats moored in the adjacent marina, and in the memory of the big ships that once loomed massively over this quayside.

'If we have to accommodate the whole foyer under the rake of the auditoriums,' said a design team member, 'the ceiling could reflect the sensuous lines of a boat hull.' Immediately it became apparent that this was not only possible, but was doubly appropriate. The auditoriums were already boat-like in form. It was necessary only to emphasize this quality by exposing their undersides and allowing their forms to 'read' on the exterior. The result would look something like a boat that had been lifted out of the water on to the dockside. It would not be a literal copy of a boat, like an exhibit in a theme park; the boat image was merely a starting-point and an inspiration. But it solved the problem in a satisfying way. It felt right, and the details of the design team began to fall into place."

Exeter Picturehouse - Building in Context

Stefanie will this afternoon be conducting a tour of Exeter Picturehouse.  The building was featured in the joint CABE and English Heritage report ‘Building in Context – New development in historic areas’.  The article on the cinema ‘Enhancing a varied historic context through confident modern design’ is reproduced below.

"The Project

This scheme, designed by Burrell Foley Fischer, involved the creation of a two-screen cinema in the city centre of Exeter by adapting and extending a former 1930's bus garage that had been in use as a furniture warehouse.

The Site

The site of the cinema is on Bartholomew Street West, just inside the line of the Roman and Medieval wall of the city of Exeter. Its immediate neighbours include 1970s flats, a Victorian terrace of houses and modern sheltered housing but within a very slightly wider context lie good 18th and 19th century houses, a fine late Georgian chapel and a public open space. Not only is the site prominent by virtue of being on a ridge, it is also within an area that has been developed continuously from Roman times, where recent architecture shows some of the draw-backs of adopting a 'fitting in' approach, drawing attention to itself by its poverty of detailing rather than blending unobtrusively into the historic fabric.

The Problems

The problems involved finding an open and welcoming form for a building containing two blind boxes. The building needed to create a suitable presence on the corner of Bartholomew Street and Fore Street. It needed to accommodate the slope up from the front to the rear of the site. In terms of architectural expression, the building needed to find a language which embodied the client's aspiration for stylish modern architecture without disrupting the historic setting. Where different kinds of planning consideration were concerned, it was also necessary to assuage the worries of neighbouring residents about the possible noise nuisance. The physical constraints of adapting the building that already stood on the site also had to be coped with.

The Solutions

The architects decided to use the existing building to house the two cinemas called for by the brief, one seating about 170 people and one seating just over 200. They sit back to back with a shared projection room at first floor level.

To the south west of the cinema halls, the extension houses the foyer, lavatories, bar/restaurant and gallery space. The main entrance on Bartholomew Street gives access to a two-storey space, with a staircase leading up to the gallery and bar space clearly visible on the first floor. This can also be entered directly from a door at the back of the building, where the car park is situated. This gives a suitable sense of presence and drama to arrival at the cinema, within what is quite a modest extension to the original building. The entrances at two levels mean that disabled people can reach all parts of the building without special arrangements being needed.

In townscape terms, these spaces are made visible externally by large areas of glazing within a simple white-rendered form. The main entrance, which is slightly recessed from the line of the building, has the appearance of a proscenium arch over a stage and is topped by the name of the cinema in neon lights. This gives a particularly welcoming impression at night, when the cinema is at its busiest.

The long western elevation of the building, diminishing in height towards the back of the site, has windows which reveal the activities going on behind them and relate in size to the scale of those spaces and activities. A glazed slit from top to bottom of this wall adds to the impression of the main entrance as a proscenium arch.

This combination of modest theatrical gestures and straightforward simple details means that the cinema has a strong presence which is suitable to its function without intruding aggressively into its surroundings.

The design was considered in some quarters to be too modern in style, but careful negotiations with the planning authority led to approval and also resolved the concerns of the neighbours about potential nuisance. There have been no problems or complaints about noise since the cinema opened.

The Lessons

The commercial success of the cinema since it opened has vindicated the cinema operator's belief in the contribution which architecture can make to commercial success. In the words of Lyn Goleby of City Screen 'The bricks and mortar are as important as the celluloid'.

Architecturally, the cinema demonstrates that it is possible to be theatrical and modern and restrained all at the same time. It illustrates that a difficult site can provide the solutions to design problems if it is approached imaginatively. It also shows that a use which is initially seen as threatening can come to be regarded as a socially highly desirable facility."

The History of Cinema City, Norwich

This afternoon Stefanie will be conducting a tour of Cinema City in Norwich as part of the RIBA Love Architecture Festival.  The conversion to a three-screen cinema in a Listed Grade I building, Suckling House and Stuart Hall was completed in 2007.

The earliest known activity on the site of Suckling House and Stuart Hall is a ditch, discovered during archaeological excavations, below what is now the courtyard. This was cut before the Norman conquest in 1066 and probably represents a boundary ditch at the western edge of the Anglo-Scandinavian town, which was centred on a market place at Tombland.

Properties were recorded on the site as early as the 13th century but it is believed that the oldest surviving parts of the building date from the 14th Century. This was a period of great prosperity for Norwich as Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III, had established a colony of her fellow countrymen, Flemish weavers, in the city. Its role as the chief centre of the wool weaving industry led to Norwich being the second city of the kingdom for much of the medieval period.

c. 1926
In the mid 16th Century the property was purchased by Robert Suckling, Mayor, Sheriff and Burgess in Parliament. He made substantial alterations to the buildings and renamed it after himself. The centre of the house was, as it remains today, the Great Hall, with its scissor brace and crown post roof. Here apprentices would have lived with their masters, owners of the house, and eaten meals with the family in the hall. However such a building was as much for ostentatious display as for private living and provided almost a salon environment for the interaction of the principal members of the Suckling family with their Norwich peers. Music, dining and conversation were all possible, precursors of similar, but more democratic, 21st Century functions.

In the 18th Century there were further substantial alterations to the building, with the conversion of the St Andrew's Hill elevation to a six bay Georgian House, five of these bays survive today. Throughout this period the main house remained in use as a private residence.

Cinema City as a single screen
By the early part of the 20th Century, Suckling House had fallen into disrepair and was sold to Ethel Mary and Helen Caroline Colman. Under the guidance of the architect Edward Boardman, they restored the house and built Stuart Hall on the waste ground beside it. The combined properties were opened by the Duke of York (the future George VI) in 1925 and then bequeathed to the "Mayor, Alderman and Citizens of the City of Norwich" with the desire "that the place should be used for the advancement of education in its widest and most comprehensive sense".

In 1977 the building became a single-screen cinema and the Regional Film Theatre for Norfolk and Norwich.  The conversion to a three-screen cinema in 2007, under the direction of Burrell Foley Fischer secures it future.  It was presented with the 'Sir Bernard Feilden Award' for "excellence in alterations and restoration of a historical building" by the Norwich Society.  

Following redevelopment to a 3 screen cinema

The North Wales Society of Architects Summer Lecture

Stefanie will be giving the Summer Lecture for the North Wales Society of Architects this evening, at the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestayn, as part of the RIBA Love Architecture Festival.  She will discuss the redevelopment of the Scala and our wider work over thirty years in the Cinema and Media Sector.

The building which currently forms the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre, began life as the Town Hall for Prestatyn in North Wales.  It opened in July 1900 and within ten years began screening films.  In 1913 James Saronie took over the building and converted it to a full time cinema, showing the first colour film in 1915.  Saronie’s real name was James Roberts, but he changed it to Saronie as he felt that was more impressive in his work as a cinematographer.  In 1930, following a major refurbishment, the cinema screened its first ‘talkie’ and then three years later hosted the North Wales premier of the classic monster movie King Kong, with queues reportedly extending halfway up the high street.

Queuing for King Kong 1933
In 1963 Saronie ended his career, selling the Scala to Prestatyn Urban District Council, later to become Prestatyn Town Council.  The following year the building’s fascia and arches were covered with a ‘modern’ blue and green frontage and it continued to operate as a cinema until December 2000, when it was forced to close for safety reasons due to a deteriorating structural condition.

The 1960's facade prior to the 2009 refurbishment
In 2001 the ‘Friends of the Scala’ were set up to lobby councillors and get the cinema re-opened. Two years later Burrell Foley Fischer were commissioned to prepare designs for a two-screen cinema with community facilities, a visual arts gallery and a café bar.  By 2007 funding was finally secured with supporters including Denbighshire County Council and the Welsh Assembly Government.  Councillor Paul Marfleet stating that “the Scala Arts Centre project plays a pivotal role in the regeneration of the town”.

The facade today
In February 2009 the refurbished and remodelled cinema and arts centre was reopened to the public.  It has been recognised with a number of awards including the RICS Awards Wales 2010 Community Benefit Award a Civic Trust Award 2010, National Panel Recognition and the Wales Action for Market Towns Awards 2011, Social and Community Category Award.

BFF 30th Anniversary - Geoff Marsh Court, Kentish Town, London

A mixed-use development for Pocket Living providing housing, 22 new one bedroom and studio flats for sale to key workers within the borough, barrow storage for market traders in the neighbouring Queen’s Crescent Market, and retaining existing employment use on the site.

Pocket sets demanding design standards for its schemes, which are conveniently located for public transport.  The Company’s focus is on the smaller infill sites where it aims to deliver 100% affordable housing on plots that might otherwise end up with developments below a borough’s threshold for affordable housing.  

The flats are economically planned around a central courtyard and are arranged to promote a community sprit within the development.  The building is highly insulated and is extremely energy efficient to avoid creating a fuel poverty trap.  The design incorporates solar thermal panels to preheat the domestic water supply and assist in achieving an Eco Homes rating of “Very Good”.

The development received a commendation in the Evening Standards Awards 2009, was a finalist in the London Borough of Camden Building Quality Awards 2009 and was the runner up in Building Magazine's Housing Project of the Year 2009.

BFF 30th Anniversary - Palace Theatre, Watford

Burrell Foley Fischer's redevelopment of the Palace Theatre, Watford was completed in 2004.  The building is made up of two distinct parts, the Listed Grade II Edwardian theatre originally designed by W.A. Theobold around the turn of the century and extended in 1910 by Wilson & Long, and a 1980s extension built as part of an office redevelopment on the adjacent site.

In the original theatre building, the stage house was completely rebuilt to provide a more generously proportioned partner to the 660 seat auditorium, which itself was remodelled to ‘close in’ the wide and Spartan side elevations and extended recess of the gallery.  Additionally, the seating rakes and layout arrangements were improved at stalls, circle and gallery levels.  The backstage areas were also completely rebuilt.

In the undistinguished 1980s extension, a vertical slot between the old and new parts of the venue defines the junction between foyer areas and historic auditorium spanned by bridges reaching between the two halves.  All front-of-house areas, access stairs and lift, and circulation and foyer spaces were rearranged and remodelled, opening up the front elevation to present dramatic new views of the public areas from the street.

BFF 30th Anniversary - Brentford Urban-Design Framework

In 1996 Burrell Foley Fischer were winners of the Masterplanning Competition commissioned by the Government Office for London and the London Borough of Hounslow, as part of the Council’s £25m Single Regeneration Budget Project.

The, approximately twenty-acre site borders the River Thames and the Grand Union Canal and is on a particularly sensitive part of the river opposite Kew Gardens and Kew Palace.The proposals included a new square to open up the riverside frontage to Brentford Town Centre.  The River Thames has not been visible to people passing through Brentford for many decades.  This and other factors had contributed to the slow decline in the prosperity of the area and which was in need of urgent attention.

The study identified a number of key sites within a new urban-design framework for the area, involving a radical restructuring of the hinterland bordering the River Thames, the River Brent and the Grand Union Canal.

BFF 30th Anniversary - Love Architecture Festival 2012 - Celebrating BFF's Cinema Architecture

Over our thirty years BFF have become one of the acknowledged leading architecture practices in the cinema and media sector.  In June, Stefanie Fischer and John Burrell will be giving tours and lectures at some of our most popular cinema buildings.  The events will be part of the RIBA's Love Architecture Festival 2012, which will involve a range of events across England and Wales to bring architecture alive through walks, talks, tours, exhibitions, films, children’s activities and more.

Scala Cinema and Arts Centre, Prestatyn

On Wednesday 20 June Stefanie will be giving a lecture on the development of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn, hosted by the North Wales Society of Architects. 

The Scala was opened in 2009, bringing access once more to film on a site with strong local memories of cinema-going and helping to revitalise the town centre in Prestatyn.  In addition to a dedicated 150 seat cinema it provides a 150 seat multi-use auditorium suitable not only to cinema exhibition but also performing arts, dance and exercise classes, fairs and markets.  

Cinema City, Norwich

Stefanie will run a tour of Cinema City in Norwich on Thursday 21 June, which will be followed by a talk by Jon Greenfield, the Chair of the Norfolk Association of Architects, and a screening of A Single Man.

In 2007, Cinema City, the Regional Film Theatre for Norwich and Norfolk, secured its future by redeveloping from a single-screen cinema to a three-screen venue.  The cinema, Listed Grade I, occupies a converted medieval hall and an adjoining 1920s hall.  Excavation created the space for additional screens below a main screen similar in size and capacity to the previous single screen.  The refurbished café bar and restaurant is located in the medieval hall and its courtyard.

Click here for details of the Norwich event

Exeter Picturehouse

On Friday 22 June, Stefanie will lead a tour of Exeter Picturehouse.  This will be followed by a talk by Professor Robert Brown, Head of Architecture at the University of Plymouth, looking at the image of the architect in film, followed by a screening of the classic film The Fountainhead.

The two-screen cinema is housed in a converted 1950’s warehouse on the edge of the central conservation area in Exeter and on a prominent approach into the city centre and opened in 1997.  The foyer and a café bar have been accommodated in a new extension, which animates the previously blank flank to the warehouse.

Harbour Lights, Southampton

John will run a tour of Harbour Lights in Southampton on Saturday 23 June, which will be followed by a talk on Southampton’s new Cultural Quarter and arts complex, and a screening of Inception.

Harbour Lights, is a landmark building in the former P&O docks, providing two auditoria for film and video exhibition and conferences, an exhibition space, a café bar and education facilities. 

We have curated a gallery of our favourite images of the cinema published on Flickr.

Cinema SilhouetteCinemaIMG_9325Harbour Lights Picture HouseHarbour Lights Picture HouseHarbour Lights Picture House
Harbour LightsArt-house Cinema365-120077_wd_IMG058Harbour LightsSouthampton Harbour Lights
Harbour LightsHarbour Lights Picturehouse IMG_3853 The artsHarbour Lights CinemaCinema Night HDRHarbour Lights Cinema

BFF 30th Anniversary - Canford School

Burrell Foley Fischer were invited to take part in a limited design competition for a new Assembly Hall / Chapel / Performance space within the grounds of Canford School, Dorset.

Founded in 1923, the school stands in a magnificent 250-acre park. The river Stour forms a boundary and there are splendid formal gardens and playing fields. The oldest part of the buildings is a fine medieval hall (known as John of Gaunt's Kitchen); part of the present building is Georgian, the rest was designed by Sir Charles Barry in 1847, and is Listed Grade I.

The judges commented: “hugely impressive process and presentation.  Excellent styling and sympathy shown for both the existing buildings and the parkland setting.  The vertical lines and the sense of light were pleasing to contemplate”. 

BFF 30th Anniversary - Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

With the 2012 Snooker World Championships underway it seems an appropriate time to look back at BFF's refurbishment and remodeling of the tournament's spiritual home, the Crucible, Sheffield.

The hosting of the Annual World Snooker Championships at the Crucible since 1977 has meant that the venue holds a special place in the affections of people, not just in Sheffield but across the country and internationally.  The redevelopment was phased, and each phase delivered on time and on budget, to allow the theatre to reopen each spring to host the Championships, ensuring that the international showcase for Sheffield continued uninterrupted.  The remodelled and refurbished theatre has been warmly received by all those involved with the snooker, including the players and the audience.

We have curated a gallery of some of our favorite images of the theatre published on Flickr.

Crucible Lyceum wide figures 2The Crucible Theatre Sheffield South Yorkshire EnglandThe CrucibleCrucible.jpgCrucible Theatre, Sheffield, UKCrucible 6516
Crucible Theatre - Sheffield---_0066CrucibleCrucible Theatre, Sheffield, UKCrucible - 20/12/11Crucible 2
Sheffield Theatres 6524SheffieldDusky Sheffield stitch..crucibleThe CrucibleCrucible theatre in Sheffield

BFF 30th Anniversary - The Lux Cinema

The Lux Centre Cinema, the home of the London Film Makers Co-op, opened in Hoxton in September 1997.  At night, the two-way projector cast images onto the screen as well as into the square outside. Slate floor-tiles spilt onto the pavement, and video pits on the floor of the foyer showed obscure one- minute films by local multimedia artists. Still in the foyer, a glass- panelled alcove flowed down from the ceiling like a waterfall. Engraved on the panes a photographic image of the ruched curtains that used to adorn traditional cinema screens. The seat in the middle was reserved for the proverbial kissing couple in the back row. 

The Lux was not just an arthouse cinema, it was also intended as a cut-price centre for experimental film-makers. The auditorium had a flat wooden floor with removable seats for multimedia and live performances, music and dance, conference and film production. Acoustic panels along the walls rotated 180 degrees, to reveal frosted glass windows when natural light was required. Editing suites and hi-tech equipment were available to hire, and the gargantuan windows of the gallery on the first floor exposed the interior. True to the tradition of this working-class area, it was a state-of-the-art cinema that served a functional purpose. 

Unfortunately the rapid regeneration of Hoxton led to rent prices more than trebling and this became a key factor in the eventual demise of the LUX as a venue based organisation in 2002.

BFF 30th Anniversary - Angell Town

The Angell Town project is a pilot scheme in Brixton, South London, which addresses the design and management problems typical of a 1970s deck-access estate. The initiative to improve the environment of what had become a ‘sink estate’ came initially from the tenants, who were very keen to make sure that the proposals by the London Borough of Lambeth were tailored to the needs and desires of people of the estate.  In 1988 three projects were initiated; a Workspace Project using derelict ground-level garages; an Enterprise Centre for training and employment opportunities and a Pilot Project to replan the deck-access housing.

The urban design objectives were to reintegrate the estate with the surrounding areas of Brixton by re-establishing a street based urban layout; to establish an active public realm at ground level; to establish a hierarchy of public and private space; to de-industrialise the estate; to create clear, safe routes for people who use and live on the estate and to solve a variety of related problems to do with security, refuse collection, dangerous parking and traffic, and the general hostility of the surroundings.

The project won many awards including Community Initiative Award 1983, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1991, Times/RIBA Community Enterprise Award 1989, Civic Trust Award 1990, and The Communities Projects Foundation Award for Partnership.

In 2008 the ongoing success of the project was acknowledged by Baroness Whitaker in the House of Lords. “ A few weeks ago I saw in Angell Town in Brixton the rehabilitation of exactly one of those estates, accompanied by new building, which created attractive, safe and affordable homes within a strong community, steered by residents’ own wishes.  Nearly three-quarters of them said that they now felt safe, that they were satisfied with their new homes and that Angell Town was now a pleasant, friendly and attractive place to live.  A few years ago, half knew a victim of crime and it was a deeply unpopular place to live.”  

BFF 30th Anniversary - Interchange

The project for Interchange Studios, completed in 2000, involved the construction of a new Weekend Arts College and the conversion of the former Hampstead Town Hall, a Listed Grade II building into a new headquarters for charities, voluntary organisations and the University of the Third Age whose activities are centred around the arts, training and people with disabilities.

The building accommodates many of the organisations under the umbrella of Interchange Studios, providing offices, a library, function and meeting-room spaces, a performance hall seating 250 people, foyer spaces, and a café/bar for both visitors and occupants alike.  The building is linked to a new extension by a glazed atrium art gallery space. 

The new extension is occupied by the Weekend Arts College, providing music, dance and drama for young people, including those with disabilities.  The College comprises two new rehearsal studios, music practice and recording studios, and affiliated storage, changing rooms and office spaces.

Twelve years later Interchange continues to thrive and has provided support to many people of all ages.  Amongst those who have benefited from the venue include members of the street dance group, Diversity, winners of Britain's Got Talent in 2009, and Ms Dynamite who said "WAC was the foundation of the experience and expertise I needed to become the artist I am today".