A new-build international education facility which includes an historic replica 350 seat Jacobean/Caroline theatre, with community and exhibition space in Prescot, an Historic market town near Liverpool. It will provide a key strategic link between national, regional and local cultural and educational policy and makes a crucial contribution to the wider area’s economic re-generation. Through the theatre tradition of the Earls of Derby it has a deep connection with one of the country’s greatest icons.
Located in the centre of Prescot, within a conservation area across an open space from a Grade 1 listed Jacobean church, the building creates a new ‘cultural piazza’ in the public realm. Access in the broadest sense, to education and theatre, will at times be incidental, without thresholds in this small town, which in Elizabethan times had a tradition of street drama. A performance garden and mixed use public spaces re-establish links between the market place at the centre of the town and other currently disconnected parts of the town. We carried out concept design proposals for the external spaces collaborating with landscape specialists on detail. Design workshops with the public artist have extended ideas into the life of the community, the candle-lit theatre and the making of candles in the community being one. All parts of the facility conform to the highest standards of fire compliance, health and Safety CDM, and accessibility criteria - a challenge in the context of an historic replica theatre.
This project where Tudor, Jacobean and Caroline theatre meet the 21st century, as the past informs the future, is the outcome of a longstanding collaboration since 2005. In defining the brief, our team and the Shakespeare North Trust, Knowsley Borough Council and the people of Prescot have been part of an extensive programme of design development and public consultation. The town centre recently won a Townscape Heritage Bid for which the Heritage Statement was drafted by ourselves in association with specialist Conservation Architects. The Stakeholders and Funders include the Liverpool combined authority, Liverpool universities, museums and central government via the NW Arts Council. The V&A are taking part in museum and exhibition workshops to advance both the permanent exhibition in the main building and the empty museum building on the same site and in the same ownership.
Our masterplan for Prescot Town Centre 2012, was fully adopted by KMBC in 2016 and absorbed within Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council’s Prescot Town Centre Masterplan with Shakespeare North at the heart of it. The project with its urban, regional and international aspirations was commended by the panel of Places Matter in 2017.
We lead a full consultant team including Aecom, Mott Macdonald, E3 Cube and Arup as Theatre and Performance Space consultants whilst having the support of a locally based executive practice who are leading on the final RIBA implementation stages.
Shakespeare North Playhouse has been shortlisted for the Cultural Regeneration Award for MIPIM 2018.