Work to renovate Corn Exchange to start next month

Posted On 16 Jan 2017 at 3:44 pm

The builders responsible for the restoration of Dulwich Picture Gallery and Margate’s Turner Contemporary has been appointed to revamp the Dome’s Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre buildings, starting next month.
Studio Theatre entrance and cafe (New Road)
The project is the first of three phases to renovate the Royal Pavilion Estate, which will see the north side of the gardens opened up and a new street cafe opened underneath the studio theatre.

The second and third phases, to renovate the Royal Pavilion and its gardens and then the Museum and Art Gallery, will follow later. The whole scheme has been designed to reconnect the estate’s buildings and landscape. Brighton Dome Concert Hall will remain open throughout the redevelopment period.

Council leader Warren Morgan said: “This is the start of another ambitious project the council and partners have worked hard to bring to fruition.

“The Royal Pavilion Estate attracts visitors from all over the world and the venues make a significant economic contribution to Brighton & Hove. The buildings are magnificent but they are facing unique challenges and are in need of refurbishment and upgrade.

“We are very relieved and proud to have found a viable way forward to restore and safeguard these treasured buildings for years to come and look forward to seeing phase one of the project brought to life by the newly appointed construction team.”

Andrew Comben, chief executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: “We are delighted to have appointed such an established family-owned business as the contractor to begin works on the restoration and transformation of our historic Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre.

“As well as safeguarding this important heritage for the future, the works will encourage new audiences, support artist development and transform visitors’ experience of the venues.

It will deliver improvements in accessibility, facilities and infrastructure, and will benefit local residents, community groups, schools, artists, tourists, the regional digital community and local businesses amongst others.”

R. Durtnell & Sons Ltd was founded in 1591 and is the UK’s oldest construction company having been grown by successive generations of the Durtnell family. They have a proven track record in delivering a number of high-profile heritage restorations and cultural projects including Dulwich Picture Gallery, Turner Contemporary in Margate, and Brighton College’s music school. The firm is based in Westerham, Kent.
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Architects drawings of the renovation and remodelling plans give an insight into the first phase of the project. The images – produced by architect Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios) – show how the transformation of the Corn Exchange, formerly the Prince Regent’s Riding house, will reveal and restore stunning and previously hidden heritage features as well as providing extra seating and an impressive new viewing gallery.

Major improvements to the Studio Theatre, once a supper room, will include balcony seating, a new artists’ creation space and a café opening onto a plaza at street level.

The majority of funds towards the £21m phase one costs have already been secured from a range of sources, including major contributions from National Lottery players via Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as commitments from a number of charitable trusts and individual donors, council capital funding and a public works loan secured by the council on behalf of Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival. Fundraising will continue throughout the build.

The project is being delivered by two of the UK’s leading cultural and heritage organisations, Royal Pavilion & Museums and Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival which manage and care for the Royal Pavilion Estate owned by Brighton & Hove City Council.

The Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery are also part of a proposal to be part of a cultural trust that the council says would enable the city’s museums service to develop the success of the Royal palace and nationally significant collections, as well as open up potential funding opportunities.

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