Fareham Arts Centre Competition
2 May 2019
Fareham Borough Council invited five architecture practices to enter a design competition for a new theatre and community centre in Fareham, Hampshire. Our new build design entry remodels the stage curtain as a façade element, forming a veil to the spaces within, lifting to reveal entrances and curated views, and providing a backdrop to the Civic Quarter beyond.
The primary purpose of the new arts and entertainment venue is to attract a wider audience than that of the existing theatre on the site, Ferneham Hall. This is to be achieved through an extended programme of daytime activity, increased capacity of the key function spaces, and the external appeal of the building in its Civic Quarter context.
The brief called for two design options; a refurbishment of the existing Ferneham Hall, and a new build within the wider site boundary. The 2,500m2 building includes an 800-seat thrust stage theatre, a 200-seat alternative performance space, and a studio space and meeting rooms for hire.
The two public entrances are designed to reflect the building’s dual use as community centre and local landmark theatre. The low-lying daytime pedestrian approach from the Civic Gardens and shopping district to the south, contrasts with the night time destination theatre approach by car.
Under the stage curtain, the two entrances reveal the glazed atrium foyer, activated with booking offices, gallery circulation, café, and bar areas, arranged across different levels. This includes an informal amphitheatre, bridging a level change between either entrances, and spilling out into the civic garden landscape adjacent. Key function spaces are expressed as timber-lined volumes, projecting into the foyer, playfully interacting with the veil of the curtain and their visual connection with the atrium.