Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Striking scheme puts iconic theatre centre stage
RIBA Work Stage
- Lead Designer
APEC Architects has been collaborating with Birmingham Repertory Theatre on an ambitious remodelling of its front of house areas. The scheme includes a striking new entrance on the building’s iconic facade, a new restaurant on the first floor, and creates more opportunities for performance outside the traditional theatre space.
Set against the background of economic demands for greater self-sufficiency, and the context of significant physical regeneration of the surrounding area, it is 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.
The iconic architecture of the building, at a time when much of the mid to late 20th century building stock in Birmingham has been lost, places a particular responsibility on the current custodians to make careful decisions with regards to any physical changes. Whilst this context presents potential constraints on the alteration of the building, it also provides an opportunity to reinforce this longstanding institution’s physical prominence, through sensitive yet contemporary design that reflects the organisation’s current day needs and values. This is in contrast to the erosion of its physical distinctiveness in recent years; a side effect of the otherwise mainly positive close relationship with the Library of Birmingham.
”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
Given the current physical and economic regeneration of the area, The REP has 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 or informally.
As a result, the design process involved an intense and in-depth period of research and iterative consultation. Such an approach means that the evolved scheme represents 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.
The proposals are intended to help to secure the long-term sustainability of the building, and have been very carefully considered to complement both the architectural language and design intention. Beyond the physical fabric of the building, it is significant that the original design philosophy was rooted in democratic and anti-elitist access to theatre. As society’s expectations with regards to physical and social inclusivity have evolved, it is appropriate that the architecture embraces change, in order to meet these changing needs. The proposed scheme aims to do this in a manner that references the original, distinctive features of the theatre but is also explicitly new and of its own time.
”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
Existing and proposed ground floor plan
Existing and proposed first floor plan