Page\Park Architects’ competition-winning proposal for a £14 million regeneration of the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds have been unveiled
The Glasgow-based, AJ100 firm defeated a raft of unnamed practice to win the prestigious regeneration scheme one year ago.
Planned to complete in 2019, the Leeds City Council-backed project will overhaul the high-profile Quarry Hill venue which opened as successor to the Leeds Playhouse in 1990 and features two auditoriums.
The studio’s ambitious proposal – which has been revealed for the first time this week – will be presented at a meeting next week (17 July) during which senior councillors will be asked to approve procedding with a second round Arts Council England funding application.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: ‘This is another exciting step towards the transformation of one of our most cherished arts institutions and a powerful statement of intent about our ambitions for the future of culture in Leeds.
‘The West Yorkshire Playhouse is an integral part of the city’s cultural landscape and this project will both secure its future, make the theatre and its surrounding area a more vibrant and attractive place to live, work and visit.
‘Our city’s eclectic arts scene is also a key element of our thriving local economy and an investment in one of Leeds’s cultural leading lights will help secure jobs and stimulate economic growth.’
Planned improvements include upgraded backstage facilities, a new studio theatre and a new entrance facing ACME’s £130million Victoria Gate retail-led development.
A new public plaza next to the theatre known as Gateway Court will also be delivered in tandem with the redevelopment which is a central part of the city’s bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023.
Designed by Edinburgh-based Appleton Partnership – the building is home to the 750-seat Quarry Theatre and 350 capacity Courtyard Theatre alongside a bar, restaurant, function rooms and rehearsal spaces.
Judi Dench laid the foundation stone for the £13 million town centre landmark in 1989.
West Yorkshire Playhouse executive director, Robin Hawkes said: ‘As we reach another important project milestone, we’re extremely grateful for Leeds City Council’s continued support for the Playhouse redevelopment.
‘We’re very proud that this building was originally created by a public campaign led by the people of Leeds, and we continue that through exploring and telling the stories of this city.
‘The Playhouse doesn’t only exist to make exceptional and original theatre, but also for creative outreach activities with diverse communities and as a cultural hub supporting new and emerging theatre makers to refine their practice. One of the key points of this development is to add an intimate, specially designed studio space, so that we can grow the city’s vital contemporary performance scene.
‘We’re also delighted about the proposal to create a new and much-needed public space on the Playhouse’s doorstep, as part of the ongoing transformation of the Quarry Hill cultural quarter.’
If Arts Council England confirms funding for the project construction will start early next year.