The Belgrade Theatre Coventry, UK
The Grade II* listed Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, opened in 1958 as a live performance venue with a capacity to seat over 850 people. A landmark building in Coventry, it was the first civic theatre to be built after the Second World War bombing, which nearly destroyed the city.
As a key partner to securing the UK City of Culture 2021 bid, the Trust approached us to support their aims in strengthening the Theatre’s profile as a family friendly destination that attracts a wider, younger audience. Split over two phases our brief was to carry out an extensive refurbishment of the original building’s fabric, which had witnessed unsympathetically alterations over the years. This included the café and restaurant, which required modernising and expanding to increase its food and beverage offering, with the ability to operate independently.
The first phase sees the sensitive refurbishment of the original auditorium which had seen little improvement since 2007. Our proposed works saw an extensive refurbishment of all the finishes including extensive timber works, cladding panels, seated boxes, re-upholster all seats to the original cast iron frames and a complete rebuilding of the orchestra pit with a new lightweight demountable stage over.
Our comprehensive refurbishment of the café and restaurant sees us work with our interior designer to deliver a contemporary new café that reflects the buildings original 1950s period.
Sensitive façade alterations introduce a new window opening fronting the Belgrade Square, with the replacement of all the single glazed windows to the elevations in a high-quality bronze anodized finish. A new bi-fold door introduces a direct link to the external seating areas.
Our design introduces a new feature staircase that takes prominent place in plan. Dressed in brass and timber, a cantilevered stair sweeps to the first floor café bar and easy access to workshop areas. The new stair provides welcomed sponsorship opportunities on the steps by way of brass templated names, that can be readily replaced.
The lighting design is integral to the design solutions with bespoke fittings commissioned throughout to help celebrate heritage period and features. The furniture fit-out were proposed as part of our proposal to ensure a comprehensive solution for the Trust.
Following the constraints of the pandemic lockdown to the arts and culture industry, the completion of this project offers a welcome relief for the Theatre.
With the cafés siting on the corner of Corporation Street and Belgrade Square, it has strengthened its place in the public realm. The improved services for workshops, socialising and civic uses has provided a template for greater community interaction that is sustainable long-term.