Sparkenhoe, Leicester

RIBA Award, 2004

Our clients, Leicester City Council wanted to demolish a former dole office housed in a 50s prefab in the Highfields area replacing it with a theatre and arts centre for the local primary school and community. We persuaded them that reusing the existing building could provide them with the space they needed within the budget.

The existing building was stripped back, re-roofed and re-clad with a rainscreen cladding of vertical timber battens fronting silver Thermo-foil. In the foyer, the external walls are glass, set directly into the existing concrete frames.

The new theatre is a black box, or rather a silver trapezium, with a sprung timber floor and 180 retractable seats to give a variety of staging arrangements.

We wanted this new landmark to shout a message about performance, not about the facility itself but about the richness and variety of the work within.