Bristol Old Vic redevelopment begins in earnest

Artists impression of Bristol Old Vic redevelopment - Image by Haworth Tompkins

Bristol Old Vic’s redevelopment began in earnest this month as building contractors Gilbert-Ash started work on site. Following hot on the heels from the successful Heritage Lottery Fund award received in October of £2.4m, Bristol Old Vic’s Chief Executive Emma Stenning handed over the keys to the King Street site to Gilbert-Ash Contract Director, Raymond Gilroy.

Raymond Gilroy said:

“We are delighted to have been appointed as the Principal Contractor for this exciting and challenging refurbishment project and look forward to working with our new client at Bristol Old Vic. We are also looking forward to delivering another fantastic Haworth Tompkins designed project to the very highest quality standards. This will be another key project for Gilbert-Ash in the Arts Sector and one that will further enhance and add to our extensive Theatre portfolio and we look forward to a successful contract completion in summer 2018. Our specialist, highly experienced Arts Sector Project Team are geared up and already on site mobilising. We are ready for the many challenges that lie ahead and in particular ensuring that the ongoing Theatre day to day business is unaffected by our daily operations on site. Gilbert-Ash will be managing all works including engineering, logistics, design management and design coordination."

Hoardings have surrounded the King Street entrance to the theatre since July as the internal fixtures and fittings were removed and preparatory works completed. Demolition of the 1970s building will be taking place over the next 6 months before the complex and intricate process of rebuilding the Front of House and studio spaces can begin.

Emma Stenning said:

“This marks a significant moment in the refurbishment of this remarkable building. Since Tom Morris and I arrived here in 2009, we knew that this project needed to happen to give Bristol Old Vic the best possible chance for a successful and secure future. It will enable us to open up new streams of income, from heritage tours, to catering and the hire of events spaces. We’ll move from being a venue that just comes alive in the evenings for a theatre production, to somewhere that is a sociable space from morning ‘til night. We’re delighted to be able to welcome the hugely respected and award-winning team of Gilbert-Ash on board today to help us realise this vision. We look forward to sharing progress reports with the people of Bristol over the next 18 months. The finished results will be breathtaking.”

The Front of House spaces will be transformed to create a warm and welcoming theatrical and social resource for the whole of Bristol with a spectacular new glass-fronted entrance foyer, revealing the original 18th walls of the Theatre to the street. The new foyer design is inspired by the openness of an Italian piazza, with natural light filling the space through high-level windows. The project will also see the return of the Grade 1 listed Coopers’ Hall to its original 18th century dimensions for use as an events space for the city, while it will also bring a new studio theatre, a modern bar and restaurant facilities, lifts to all floors and new toilets. The plans have been developed by Stirling Prize winning architects Haworth Tompkins, who also developed the Royal Court Theatre in London, Young Vic, the egg in Bath and Liverpool’s Everyman.

This phase of work will also connect 250 years of theatrical heritage, represented both by Bristol Old Vic’s exquisite 18th century architecture and its extraordinary archive. The results will be a new visitor attraction, animating the organisation’s unique story like never before.

Raymond Gilroy Gilbert-Ash and Emma Stenning Bristol Old Vic CENTRE - Photography by Jon Craig Raymond Gilroy Gilbert-Ash and Emma Stenning Bristol Old Vic CENTRE - Photography by Jon Craig

Emma Stenning (Bristol Old Vic Chief Executive) hands over keys to Gilbert-Ash Contract Director Raymond Gilroy. Photo by Jon Craig.