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Bennetts Associates wins contest for £20m overhaul of Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre

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Bennetts Associates has won the £20 million job to overhaul Edinburgh’s historic King’s Theatre

The practice will draw up plans for the regeneration of the James Davidson-designed 1906 landmark on Leven Street, which last underwent a major upgrade more than 30 years ago and is now in need of significant restoration and modernisation.

The project, for building owner Capital Theatres King’s, aims to radically transform and enhance the 1,350-capacity city-centre venue which features a richly-decorated interior designed by Kirkcaldy-based architect JD Swanston.

Bennetts’ ambitious redevelopment project includes a new street-level café and bar, a new rooftop hospitality space with ‘spectacular 360-degree views of the city’ and a learning studio, providing a ‘much-needed space for community engagement and educational projects’.

The wider aim of the scheme is to more than double the opening hours and increase annual visitor figures by 50 per cent.

King’s Theatre was constructed in 1906 as a rival to the city’s iconic Royal Lyceum Theatre and is a short distance from The Meadows and Edinburgh University.

It was originally designed for 2,500 people, but scaled down and reconfigured during the mid-20th century. It has been used as a venue for both opera during the Edinburgh Festival and annual pantomimes.

Bennetts associate director James Nelmes commented: ‘The King’s Theatre has a unique place in the hearts and minds of many Edinburgh residents and is a theatre of national architectural importance. We are delighted to be working with Capital Theatres and Theatreplan to bring it to the next stage.

’The plans to modernise the existing facilities and transform the experiences of visitors, performers and staff will help the theatre to remain a vital part of Edinburgh’s cultural provision for years to come.’

Bennetts will submit its proposals in 2020 with redevelopment works scheduled to begin in September 2021.

The theatre will close for 20 months and reopen in summer 2023.

Long section design by bennets associates

Long section - design by Bennetts Associates

Project data

Location 2 Leven St, Edinburgh EH3 9LQ
Type of project Theatre modernisation
Client Capital Theatres
Architect Bennetts Associates
Landscape architect Not yet appointed
Structural engineer Will Rudd Davidson
M&E consultant Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor Gleeds
Project manager Thomas & Adamson
Theatre consultant Theatreplan
Main contractor Not yet appointed
Funding Funds are already in place from Capital Theatres (£5 million) and the City of Edinburgh Council (£4 million). Remaining funds will be sourced from a fundraising campaign, applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and other grant-making trusts as well as statutory bodies.
Start on site date To be confirmed
Total cost In the region of £20 million 

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