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FIRST LOOK

Space Architects redevelops Edwardian-era Darlington Hippodrome

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The Grade II-listed Darlington civic theatre has been redeveloped and now includes a glazed link to a new children’s threatre housed in a former fire station

As well as updating the original theatre and its 1980s extension, an adjacent former fire station now houses the Hullabaloo children’s theatre, which has its own entrance and foyer but is linked to the main theatre via a new single-storey glazed structure. Similarly, a glazed ‘incision’ facing the road acts as a beacon and separates the theatre structure from the adjacent shops.

Sitting in the Parkgate Conservation Area, the £14 million scheme’s priority was to enhance the setting of the original historic theatre while bringing new provisions including bar spaces, a cafe, function rooms, a promenade gallery, dressing rooms, wardrobe space, backstage technical facilities, staff changing areas and offices. The creation of the new accommodation and remodelling of existing spaces meant that piecemeal internal modifications could be removed, with the original auditorium, foyer and grand staircase being restored to their original Edwardian splendour.

The Hullabaloo children’s theatre includes a 150-seat studio theatre, family café, and rehearsal and office space, along with a timber-clad drum which houses a creative play area. Just as the new glazed form of the theatre sits directly above the historic fabric, the timber Hullabaloo auditorium has been simply slotted into the original fire station.

Space Architects, which has offices in the North East, Yorkshire and London, won the project in October 2014 following a design competition and interview process through the SCAPE framework. The practice was involved in developing the brief for both buildings and took the lead for extensive client, end user and stakeholder consultations. 

The project was completed in November 2017 and the original theatre re-opened under its former name, Darlington Hippodrome. The new Hullabaloo Children’s Theatre held its first ever public performance on 11 December 2017.

2017.11.21 photograph selection\p interior showing auditorium, box and sun burner

2017.11.21 photograph selection\p interior showing auditorium, box and sun burner

Client’s view

Space Architects has taken great care to listen to us at every stage, ensuring all key stakeholders were on board with its plans from the beginning. The overall outcome is a space which is accessible to people and that they feel a part of. The theatre will be a beacon of cultural excellence for the local community and further afield.

Lynda Winstanley, theatre director

Architect’s view

It has been thoroughly rewarding to be given the opportunity to nurture the original theatre back to its original beauty and to create a sustainable cultural centre fit for the 21st century. These theatres are now set to become a cultural hub that can inspire people in the arts, a place that can champion cultural life, and a place that meets its ambitions for regeneration and growth.

David Coundon, director, Space Architects

Plans\a(00)gap101 ground floor ga plan

Plans\a(00)gap101 ground floor ga plan

Ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site 
13 June 2016
Completion 
6 November 2017
Form of contract or Procurement Route SCAPE procurement process with contractor Willmott Dixon using NEC 3 contract
Construction cost £14.2 million
Architect Space Architects
Client Darlington Borough Council
Structural engineer Billinghirst George Partnership
M&E consultant Cundall (MEP)
Quantity surveyor Costing information was provided on an “open book” basis by Willmott Dixon and their supply chain as per SCAPE protocol. The scheme was over 70 per cent market-tested prior to completion of Work Stage 3 and submission of Full Planning and Listed Building applications
Conservation specialist Space Architects
Interior design Space Architects
Theatre equipment specialist Charcoal Blue
Historic theatre consultant Theatresearch
CDM coordinator/principal designer Todd Milburn
Approved building inspector Darlington Borough Council
Main contractor Willmott Dixon Construction
CAD software used Revit 

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