performing arts

Cambridge Arts Theatre receives Commendation at Awards Ceremony

BFF's refurbishment and remodelling of the front of house areas of Cambridge Arts Theatre has been recognised with a Commendation in the Sustainability Category at the Cambridge Design and Construction Awards.

Located in the heart of the City, Cambridge Arts Theatre is one of the region’s liveliest and most exciting venues, hosting a varied programme of drama, dance, music, comedy and pantomime. Burrell Foley Fischer was selected to resolve and expand the foyer and front of house facilities. The completion of Phase 1 more than doubles the amount of foyer space while also providing three new spacious bars and a new box office at the St Edward’s Passage entrance. The opening up of the St Edward’s Passage foyers provides views both into and out of the building, transforming the interiors from predominantly internalised spaces into places with an outlook.

Work starts on Cambridge Arts Theatre's ACT II Building Project

Construction work on Cambridge Arts Theatre’s ambitious ACT II project to create much-needed new public spaces for the Theatre, designed by Burrell Foley Fischer, has begun. 

From September, audiences entering the Theatre from St Edward’s Passage will be greeted with a large, light foyer. There will be extended bar spaces with new seating areas, making it easier to buy refreshments before shows and during the interval. At the same time, the current Peas Hill entrance and foyer will be comprehensively refurbished. The increased space and improved facilities will make it easier and more enjoyable to move around the building. 

The redevelopment plans have been scheduled to minimise the impact on the Theatre’s regular programme of performances. Whilst the construction works will last 17 weeks, there will be a break in performances for only 10 weeks over the summer. The box office will be open as usual, and the works will be completed in time for the opening of the autumn season in mid-September.

Unveiling the designs the Chief Executive of Cambridge Arts Theatre, Dave Murphy said: “This project is great news for our audience and is a significant step towards the realisation of our overall ACT II vision for our Theatre. We are incredibly grateful to all the organisations and individuals that have made such pioneering and generous donations to fund this first phase of our works.”

BFF Projects receive Arts Council Funding

Two of our projects, The Cambridge Arts Theatre and Broadway, Nottingham’s Media Centre, have been successful with their application to Arts Council England for capital funding for their redevelopment plans.

Cambridge Arts Theatre
Cambridge Arts Theatre will redevelop and extend its current impractical foyer facilities to provide new public entrances, a new box office and significantly extend bar and hospitality spaces. This will greatly increase the Theatre’s financial sustainability and resilience and provide an open and welcoming entrance for its audiences.

Broadway, Nottingham's Media Centre
Funding will improve Broadway’s facilities and resources to establish it as the lead centre for creative media in central England. The work will result in more efficient and effective use of Broadway’s existing building, focusing primarily on improvements to floor space on its lower ground level.

Alexandra Theatre, Bognor Regis

Arun District Council are consulting on plans prepared by Burrell Foley Fischer for the renovation of the Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis.  The proposals include refurbishment and improvements to the auditorium and technical facilities, together with a new foyer and atrium wrapping around the theatre and transforming the external appearance.  

In addition the creation of an indoor arcade / winter garden will provide a pedestrian route from the existing arcade down to the seafront and other parts of the Regis centre sites development.

The renovation of the theatre would be paid for through the value generated by the development of other parts of the Regis centre site.   

The Crucible nominated for People's Choice Design Award

The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, refurbished by Burrell Foley Fischer, has been nominated in the Sheffield Civic Trust and RIBA Yorkshire 2012 Sheffield Design Awards for the People's Choice Award.  The people of Sheffield are invited to vote for their choice of the best new building in the city.  The results will be announced at a ceremony on 27 November.

Visit the Sheffield Design Awards Website here

Visit BFF Projects as part of Open House London 2012

Once again it will be possible to visit a number of BFF's projects in London as part of Open House London.  There is a chance to visit the magnificent Grade I listed headquarters of the Royal Society in Carlton House Terrace, two of our cinemas Stratford Picturehouse and the Cine Lumiere in Kensington, and the Almeida Theatre in Islington. Open House takes place on 22 and 23 September.  Please visit their website for further details using the links below.

Stratford Picturehouse

BFF designed this purpose built four-screen cinema with exhibition, cafe bar and restaurant facilities.

Details of Open House - Stratford Picturehouse

The Royal Society

BFF were responsible for the refurbishment and remodeling of the Grade I Listed Nash building in Carlton House Terrace. 

Details of Open House - The Royal Society

The Almeida

BFF have been the theatre's architects since 1982, shortly after its inception, and have been responsible for the refurbishment and remodeling of the building, Listed Grade II, including a new extension.

Details of Open House - The Almeida

Cine Lumiere

BFF were responsible for the refurbishment of the Listed Grade II Art Deco cinema at the Institut Francais in South Kensington.

Details of Open House - Cine Lumiere

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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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.

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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 - 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". 

BFF 30th Anniversary - Collins Music Hall

Burrell Foley Fisher LLP were invited to participate in a limited competitive selection process for a new theatre venue on the site of the former Collins Music Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 1957.  

The brief called for an adaptable theatre space of 600-700 seats to address the different requirements of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre thrust stage productions and those of the Manchester Royal Exchange in-the-round productions, as well as end stage formats for other access.  The alternative in-the-round, thrust and end stage options are manipulated using towers and seating wagons floating on air castors

Nothing remains of the former auditorium save an empty space (last used as a timber yard) buried deep within the site and accessed only by a long carriage passage.  Waterstones bookshop already occupied the front of the building facing Islington Green.

A new wrought language was developed for the auditorium drawing inspiration from the structural clarity of gasometers, or the emcompassing excitement generated by the form of a bullring.  The foyer area was to be multi-layered, with a glazed roof and west wall to entice patrons along the dark passage.  Tantalising views are given into the auditorium from the foyers through sliding shutters, which close when the show is ready to begin. 

BFF 30th Anniversary - Frensham Heights Performing Arts Centre

The performing arts centre is a new theatre built for both teaching use and public performance, including dance, drama and music.  The auditorium, with a seating capacity of 340, is modelled on double cube proportions, creating a very adaptable space rising in three tiers to an exposed, trussed rafter roof.  Staging can be arranged in a variety of layouts to suit the performance space required: from an open-end stage to a proscenium frame; and from a thrust stage to theatre-in-the-round.  The seating can be electronically retracted to the rear wall to give a level floor surface throughout.  Each of the staging configurations can be set up by three people in about 45 minutes.

The building is sited within the grounds of an Edwardian Mansion, which accommodates the main part of the school, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  It rests calmly behind a screen of mature oak trees, through which the lively foyer areas can be seen from the direction of approach.

Awards for the building include The Farnham Society Amenity Award 2001, The Royal Fine Art Commission/Sky TV ‘Building of the Year Award’ in the Education Category 2001, The Timber Industry Award 2001, The Waverley Design Award 2001 and a Civic Trust Award 2003.

BFF 30th Anniversary - Boiler House, Royal Holloway

The original complex of Royal Holloway, part of the University of London, is a grand 19th Century red brick building dressed in stone by WH Crossland.  The site also includes another building by Crossland, a boilerhouse, which was until 1968 used to provide the university’s heat and power.

The Royal Holloway drama department took over the building and decided to turn it into a centre for experimental theatre.  Burrell Foley Fischer LLP won a competition to undertake the conversion.  The brief was not to create any sort of auditorium – the space was to be left bare so that it could be filled with the imaginations of the theatre directors.

The interior of the boilerhouse was acoustically insulated, weatherproofed and given a new sprung floor, but otherwise the “found space” aesthetic is retained and not smartened up.  

Acting dynasty to appear at The Royal Hall, Harrogate

It was reported in Sunday's Observer that members of the Fox family, one of Britain's most glamourous theatrical dynasties, are to appear on stage together for the first time to pay tribute to the legacy of their illustrious forebear, engineer, Samson Fox.  Edward Fox and his wife, actress Joanna David, have decided to lead members of the family in May in a one-off stage show at the Royal Hall, in Harrogate, the grand venue commissioned and paid for by his ancestor.

The Royal Hall, created for Samson Fox by renowned theatrical designer Frank Matcham and his architect Robert Beale, was completed in 1903.  It was conceived as a cure hall, or Kursall, in the tradition of European spa towns.  The hall fell in to disrepair but was restored four years ago after a campaign, supported by Edward Fox.

Burrell Foley Fischer led the design team for this sensitive conservation and restoration project by focussing on the authenticity of historic details through careful research.  It was recognised with a 2008 BCI Award: Conservation- Highly Commended and a 2009 RICS Pro-Yorkshire Award: Conservation and Overall Best Project.

Read the full Observer article on the show

Visit the Royal Hall Website for details of the event