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Southampton Arts Centre


The brief for this project called for two theatres and an art gallery, with the whole development to be funded by adjacent residential or hotel uses.

Our approach re-connected the Civic Guildhall Square with the landscape of the park to the East and the new Arts Centre closing the fourth side of the square elevating both its presence and completed the square itself. 

The geometry of the new building was generated simply by the shift in axis of the park.  The two distinct uses gave us the clues we needed to order the spaces.  The Theatres were raised up to first floor level past a grand ground floor.  This gave us the opportunity to create the galleries under the theatres using the soffit of the theatre itself to create an undulating profile to the gallery. The gallery spaces were designed as planes that simply spanned between the two main service walls of the building removing all the lowered ceilings to emphasise the simplicity of the spaces giving all the volume to the art.

The orientation of the building and the use of heavy thermal mass in its construction enabled us to lower the energy use of that normally associated with a building of this type.  CHP plant that powered and heated this building also fuelled the towers to each side in order to take advantage of the offset profile for their power requirements. The skin was conceived to represent large curtains on the theatre block whereas in contrast the lower block was more transparent allowing views in from the street to encourage people to enter. At the junction between the two forms sat the bar and terrace allowing visitors to enjoy the view of the park to the east.

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