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Competition: Watford Colosseum and Business Park

RHWL Arts Team's Watford Colosseum project in Watford, Hertfordshire
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Watford Borough Council (WBC) is recruiting design teams for a major overhaul of its former assembly rooms and for a landmark new industrial complex

The Hertfordshire local authority has issued two simultaneous contract notices for high-profile commissions. The first involves an extensive revamp of the town’s Grade II-listed Charles Cowles-Voysey-designed Colosseum theatre.

The second commission meanwhile involves creating a landmark new 7,100m² industrial ‘Gateway’ complex on the 30-hectare Watford Business Park (WBP) which currently hosts around 65 firms and 1,000 jobs.

According to its contract brief, the Watford Colosseum ‘underwent major refurbishment in [2010-2011] and saw the replacement of significant parts of the heating and how water system, along with a new double storey side extension and other internal upgrades. Due to budgetary constraints, some of the works were not carried out, therefore WBC are now looking to upgrade the building to meet modern standards and make it suitable for use as a modern concert and entertainment venue.’

According to the WBP brief: ‘The “Gateway Zone” is located at the entrance to the business park and has potential to accommodate a flagship development at the entrance to the estate. It is currently characterised by low density and inefficiently planned buildings comprising low quality office and warehouse accommodation. Without an innovative and forward-thinking development, this strategic site will fail to attract new business, it risks deteriorating further and losing employment opportunities for the borough. The proposal to redevelop the Gateway Zone is considered to be a much-needed catalyst to regenerate WBP as an employment destination.’

Watford is a major commercial and commuter hub north-west of London and is home to around 90,000 people. Watford Colosseum was designed by Charles Cowles-Voysey in 1938 as part of a wider complex which also includes a neighbouring town hall.

Originally an assembly rooms, the building was rebranded as Watford Colosseum following a £5.5 million revamp by RHWL in 2011. The original architect was the son of Charles Voysey who is known for his association with the Arts and Crafts movement. The theatre is the rehearsal base of the BBC Concert Orchestra.

The latest project will deliver roof repairs, new roof access, a survey of the auditorium’s plaster ceiling, environmental upgrades and a reconfiguration of internal spaces including foyers, changing rooms and bars.

The Watford Business Park commission meanwhile focusses on the creation of a landmark new building featuring modern, flexible business units intended to boost regeneration throughout the town’s industrial activity zone. Potential occupiers could include businesses in the film, TV, life sciences and manufacturing sectors.

The two commissions come almost two years after John Puttick Associates won a competition for a £2.2 million regeneration of Grade II-listed Watford Museum. The applications deadline for the Watford Colosseum contract is midday on 24 January while the deadline for the Watford Business Park contract is midday on 17 January.

How to apply

View the Watford Colosseum and Watford Business Park contract notices for more information

Contact details

Corporate Procurement Manager
Watford Borough Council
Town Hall
WD17 3EX

Email: howard.hughes@watford.gov.uk
Tel: +44 1923278370


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