Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Striking scheme puts iconic theatre centre stage

RIBA Work Stage
  • Lead Designer
  • Architect
APEC Architects collaborated with Birmingham Repertory Theatre on an ambitious remodelling of its front of house areas. The scheme sought to blur the threshold between the wider public realm and access to the performing arts.

Set against the background of economic demands for greater self-sufficiency, and the context of significant physical regeneration of the surrounding area, it was a key moment in time for The REP to be considering the strategic development of its front of house areas, and to reassert its presence on the relandscaped Centenary Square. 


The REP identified the opportunity to connect even more strongly with its key stakeholders, the people of Birmingham, through the development of its space as a place for all people to enjoy inclusively, and for theatre to be experienced formally and informally. 

We’re delighted to be working with APEC on developing The REP to make it even more welcoming and inclusive. The designs have been developed through user consultation to inform a feasibility study before developing fuller plans. The proposed alterations will create a new and more prominent central entrance as well as making modifications to the internal public areas to develop an informal performance space, improve orientation and access to the theatres whilst also making physical improvements to the bar and catering provision to maximise commercial income and improve ambience, service, access and operability.

Rachael ThomasExecutive Director, Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Diagram of the brief

The design process involved an intense and in-depth period of research and iterative consultation. This approach meant that the resulting scheme represented an exciting but pragmatic response to a deep understanding of the organisation’s operational needs, values and mission, placing the long-term sustainability of the Theatre and its iconic building at its core. 


Particular challenges of the former layout related to equality of access, and it was disorientating and acoustically lively; which were contributing to levels of discomfort or distress to people who were neurodivergent. The proposed scheme sought to address these challenges by providing a new main entrance to the centre of the principal facade, external steps and ramp, reconfiguring the internal layout to create a central axis that aids way-finding and separation of functions, and to use interior design and the introduction of sound absorbing finishes to address the acoustic problems. 

Front Exterior of The Rep - Photo Credit Greg James

The proposals were very carefully considered to complement both The REP’s distinct architectural language and design intention. Beyond the value of the physical fabric of the building, it was significant that the original design philosophy was rooted in democratic and anti-elitist access to theatre.


As society’s expectations with regard to physical and social inclusivity have evolved, it was appropriate that the architecture embraced change too, in response. The scheme was completed in 2022; a reduced scope of works which included all the changes at ground floor and the external landscaping. 

The APEC team really support their clients through the process of design development and help them navigate the complicated road to concept realisation. Their process is consultative and their attitude empathetic. I commend them particularly for projects where architecture seeks to articulate the culture of the organisation.

Trina JonesGeneral Manager, Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Close up Exterior of The Rep - Photo Credit Greg James

Existing and proposed ground floor plan

Existing and proposed first floor plan