Bush Theatre

This long-running project with the Bush Theatre has achieved gradual improvements to the building over 6 years, and Phase 2 continues the integration of new with existing services.

The previous phase involved the conversion of the former library into a theatre, and this phase aims to refurbish the ex-library and offices, and add on studio and rehearsal workspaces and a commercial kitchen.

The new studio, a flexible space that can seat between 50 to 70 people, has enabled the theatre to increase the number of programmed shows. More importantly, the space is highly multi-functional, with opening wall panels that let in natural light to run daytime workshops. The two large dressing rooms also have enough ventilation and natural light, and a new attic rehearsal room enables actors to rehearse all shows on site – something they have not been able to do before. This has allowed them to be more time efficient, as well as engage in a more sustainable and energy-efficient approach to performing, consequently lowering their running costs in the long run.

The addition of a lift that provides disabled access to three floors of the building contributes significantly to the theatre’s main aim of making the building more accessible and approachable. Skelly & Couch and partners have successfully brought the theatre’s original ethos of the “democratisation of literature” to the refurbished theatre space, along with some eccentric elements to retain its historic character.

The Bush Theatre refurbishment was ‘Highly commended’ in the 2017 AJ Retrofit Awards Cultural Building of the Year category and is a best Cultural project finalist in the inaugural AJ Architecture Awards 2017. The project is a Regional Finalist in the 2018 Civic Trust Awards and shortlisted for the Selwyn Goldsmith Award.