The Brindley Arts Centre for Halton Borough Council is an ambitious regeneration project, revitalising the old town centre, bringing cultural, educational, social and economic benefit to Runcorn town and wider community. The site is situated adjacent to the North towpath of the Bridgewater Canal, on derelict contaminated ground overlooking the town centre, with expansive views towards the Mersey.
The new building houses a 420-seat theatre designed as a proscenium arched stage with full height fly tower, suitable for speech, drama, music and dance, with an adaptable fore-stage / orchestra pit. A scene dock and storage are adjacent to the side stage, accessed from a service yard. The second element is a multi-functional flat floor studio with retractable seating for 120 designed for theatre, dance, cinema, conference and group activities. Both theatre and studio are equipped with separate control and mixing rooms and are acoustically treated. Shared ancillary spaces are located between these principal functions including a green room, changing areas, rehearsal rooms and offices. The third group of functions comprise exhibition spaces and education workrooms, which form an outer layer of accommodation. All areas are designed to be fully accessible for DDA compliance.
The design concept places the circular auditorium in the centre of the plan, which is organised as a pinwheel with ancillary functions rotating outward. A curved, top-lit public foyer space links the central and outer layers of accommodation, providing a notional break between spectator and leisure activities. Stratified bands of red and blue facing bricks run around the entire perimeter to provide visual continuity to a variety of volumes, with a contrasting green pre-patinated copper cladding to the upstanding auditorium space.
The project utilises passive ventilation and cooling by means of night cooling of highly insulated exposed thermal mass. The theatre spaces use TermoDeck® as the means of cooling and ventilating, using the structure as a thermal store. This approach was developed in our earlier projects, and is rated by the (then) DETR as best practice for energy efficiency.
By providing much needed civic and cultural spaces to Runcorn, this Arts Council Lottery funded project has acted as a significant spur to further regeneration in the area.
Client: Halton Borough Council
Architect: John Miller + Partners
Photographer: Dennis Gilbert
Status: Completed 2005