A new type of public building, combining theatre and library
Bennetts Associates and Ellis Williams for Cheshire West and Chester Council
Contract value: £37m
Cost per m²: £5,286
This is a new public building type combining a theatre and library. Its spaces range from informal to grand and theatrical. A children’s library is visible and inviting from the street, yet intimate and comfortable inside. The design is a radical solution to the flexibility required by the organisation.
The theatre can morph from an 800-seat proscenium to 500-seat thrust stage in an ingenious, low-tech and cost-effective way. Taking cues from commercial spaces such as bookshops and pubs, the project creates a new atmosphere for a cultural venue that is refreshingly free of commercial trappings. Externally the treatment is bold and well judged. The new brickwork complements the original, while the robust cast glass screen befits the scale.