Architects announced for Octagon major development

Architects announced for Octagon major development

We're delighted to announce Feilden Clegg Bradley, a Stirling Prize award-winning architectural practice, as the architects of the theatre’s upcoming major capital redevelopment project.

The plans for redevelopment, first announced in January 2015, focus on modernising and enlarging the building to improve accessibility and accommodation for the theatre’s on and off-stage theatre projects. Taking place at the end of the 50th anniversary season this major development project will safeguard the Octagon for future generations, making it more environmentally sustainable, financially efficient, and allowing for greater artistic and technological innovation.

Feilden Clegg Bradley who are based in Manchester have an international reputation for design quality and pioneering environmental expertise. Amongst their extensive work within the art and culture sector is Manchester School for Arts and the major redevelopment of the Southbank Centre in London.

The contractors for the redevelopment will be Willmott Dixon, who are already delivering a number of exciting building projects in Bolton with a local workforce. Also joining the project will be Gardiner and Theobald as Project Managers and Charcoal Blue as the Theatre Consultants.

Lead architect on the project Ernst ter Horst comments “Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios feel privileged to be involved in this exciting, transformational project for Bolton.  We have been captivated by the passion of the Octagon’s creative team, who lead unique theatre performances and have established a positive social and cultural role within the local area.

There is a real potential to redefine the Octagon’s expression, build on and improve the experiences within, whilst expanding and modernising the compromised support facilities.  We very much look forward to contributing to the next step in the flourishing regeneration of Bolton centre with our local team.”

Roddy Gauld, Chief Executive of the Octagon Theatre, commented: “Selecting the right architects is crucial to the Octagon’s redevelopment. We have a very distinctive building, with an unusual geometry and essential artistic qualities. We’re also surrounded by some of Bolton’s most beautiful buildings.  It’s important that we’re respectful to the existing architecture whilst creating an inspiring contemporary look that can be beacon in Bolton town centre’s continuing regeneration.

On meeting Feilden Clegg Bradley we were all deeply impressed.  They seemed to naturally understand us as an organisation and our needs.  The team has an impressive track record of theatre and cultural projects and I’m very proud to have this award winning practice work with us.

The Octagon turns 50 in November this year. The best way to mark 50 years of success is to ensure it continues for the future, and I’m excited that we’ll be working with Feilden Clegg Bradley to reimagine the Octagon for the next fifty years.”

With anticipated project costs of approximately £10m, funding pledges have already been secured from Arts Council England (distributing funds from the National Lottery good causes) and Bolton Council.  A fundraising campaign led by the Octagon Theatre, which is a registered charity, is ongoing to secure the total amount. 

Councillor Cliff Morris said: “The Octagon is a jewel in the crown of Bolton and one of the most popular and successful regional theatres in the UK. We look forward to working with the Octagon to support them in the improvement and expansion of the building and to introduce even more people to world class theatre, made in Bolton.”

The timescale for the projects will mean that the Octagon building will close from mid-2018 and re-open in late 2019. During this time, the theatre, which will remain open and active as an organisation, will take the opportunity to engage with new and existing audiences by operating in different spaces in and around Bolton.

Elizabeth Newman, Artistic Director of the Octagon Theatre, commented: “We are so excited to be working with a fantastic team of architects, theatre consultants and contractors for the project. The artistic and social benefits to Bolton for this project will be incredible, as it will enable the theatre to expand its community provision and its reach. Our building was forged in the 1960’s with passion and dedication; 50 years on, we need to improve our building to ensure we will be accessible, open and welcoming venue for all audiences and artists for another 50 years to come.

The aim of reimagining our building is to ensure accessibility to all, including creating spaces where our young people and community activities can take place. It will enable us to make creative spaces fit for purpose in the 21st century as well as improving the experience of our audiences throughout the building. We are delighted to have Feilden Clegg Bradley on board during this exciting time, they will help to bring to life our vision for a building that will thrive for another 50 years and more.”

Image above: Back row, left to right: Ric Ashmore, Ernst ter Horst, Roddy Gauld, and Flip Tanner. Front row, left to right: Lynsay Robinson and Elizabeth Newman.