Old English Church Transformed Into A Theatre By Foster Wilson Architects

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Foster Wilson Architects has converted a heritage-listed church in Bedford, England, into a theatre with a new curved timber and glass foyer bar (+ slideshow).

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

The Quarry Theatre at St Luke’s occupies a previously redundant Moravian church and minister’s property, which the two back onto Bedford School.

Foster Wilson Architects oversaw the refurbishment of the old structures, and designed an extension that opens to the developing up to the original church backyard.

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

The church was consecrated in 1865 but last but not least closed in 2008. The project’s aim was to transform the historic structure into a facility that could be utilized by the school, touring theatre groups, or members of the local community.

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

The church faces one particular of the town’s key thoroughfares, so it was retained as the main frontage for the theatre.


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“The building’s area was excellent, with its major facade facing the town and the back dealing with the college grounds,” architect Tim Foster told Dezeen. “This makes it possible for the theatre to face each approaches, each physically and metaphorically.”

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

“The church is retained as a single public assembly room, which is significantly a lot more acceptable than chopping it up to generate residential units, which might otherwise have been its fate,” he extra.

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

A foyer and educating area lead through to the new 300-seat auditorium.

Found within the central location of the chapel, the hall was created by erecting a steel construction within the current walls so the original volume and characteristics remain visible.

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

A flat-floored stage surrounded by tiered seating is ignored by the church’s current balcony, which the architects extended forward and re-tiered to improve sight lines to the stage.

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

Two ranges of new galleries extend along either side of the auditorium, over which a rig for suspending scenery and stage lighting is positioned.

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

“We desired to respect and function with the grain of the original constructing although adapting it to its new use,” Foster explained. “Wherever attainable, unique spaces have been restored by getting rid of later on additions that confused the clarity of the unique program.”

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

The extension at the rear of the constructing wraps around the outside of the curved chancel, exactly where the authentic exterior brick wall is left exposed and complemented by new fair-faced brick walls.

An extra foyer and bar are contained in the extension, which is flanked by a wall of glass. The space opens out to a terrace that connects the developing with the gardens and the school beyond.

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

“By radiating the new foyer around the unique apsidal chancel wall and maintaining the roof low, we have been capable to enable the authentic constructing to continue to be visible above it,” mentioned the architect.

“The curved glazed wall gives a panoramic see of the gardens, filling the space in between the original vestry and the new backstage accommodation,” he extra. “The new addition is obviously modern but aims to perform with the authentic constructing in terms of its type and supplies.”

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

A former minister’s property adjoining the church was adapted to contain front-of-property services like a reserving office and a foyer in the former vestry. Its upper levels accommodate offices and a studio.

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

The architects endeavoured to retain and fix existing materials wherever achievable, employing lime plaster in the authentic buildings. Oak flooring and joinery produce a sense of continuity throughout the interior.

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson Architects

Other examples of churches converted for cultural purposes incorporate a stone developing in a Franciscan convent that now houses an auditorium and a cultural centre featuring pivoting golden cabinets that occupies a Dutch church dating back to the 13th century.

Photography is by Philip Vile.


Project credits:

Consumer: Bedford College
Architect: Foster Wilson Architects
Undertaking manager &amp QS: Ainsley &amp Partners
Structural engineer: Price &amp Myers Providers
Engineer: Ernest Griffiths
Theatre consultant: Theatreplan
Acoustician: Gillieron Scott Acoustic Design and style
Major contractor: SDC Builders Ltd

The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson ArchitectsGround floor plan – click for more substantial image The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson ArchitectsInitial floor strategy – click for more substantial image The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson ArchitectsSecond floor program – click for greater picture The Quarry Theatre in Bedford by Foster Wilson ArchitectsSections – click for larger image


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