Refurbished world-class performance venue re-opens in Brighton
Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
FCBS revitalise heritage Regency arts venue
Brighton Dome’s major Grade I and Grade II listed Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre refurbishment is complete, with the world-class performance venue opening its doors once again to the public. Tenderstream member Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) worked with skilled contractors to painstakingly conserve vital heritage features for the regency building, as well as implementing major technical and operational improvements including a new foyer space and café, alongside improved accessibility for performers and artists.
Before becoming an arts venue, the building served as a Victorian skating rink, a WW1 military hospital – and was originally constructed as an elaborate stable block for the Prince Regent, later King George IV. During the current restoration, paint was removed from the ceiling by hand to expose the original wooden beams of its unique 18-metre single span timber frame – where beams are supported at two points only. The widest example of its kind in in the country, the beams have been repaired, strengthened and restored to architect William Porden’s original designs from the early 1800s. Elsewhere, 34 pilaster columns were recreated from 200-year-old archive drawings and eleven arched windows restored by hand.
In 1934-35, the Concert Hall and Corn Exchange underwent a radical Art Deco refurbishment by architect Robert Atkinson, who also added a supper room which would later become the Studio Theatre. Original features such as the crenelated windows, which mimic the character of the neighbouring Royal Pavilion, have been fully restored and its ceiling replaced with a new, historically accurate version.
The venue’s compelling history is also echoed throughout newly created areas. In the Gallery Bar, architectural design studio Drinkall Dean used the Corn Exchange’s original purpose as a riding house as the inspiration for decoration. Downstairs, a more contemporary era of Brighton Dome’s history is celebrated, with wallpaper in the Festival Bar taking its inspiration from the poster for the first Brighton Festival, which took place in 1967.
Peter Clegg, founding partner of Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio, stated: “Seeing the space now - fully restored, with all the layers that have been added over the years stripped out - you can see what an amazing building it is. But more than that, along with the renovated 1930s Studio Theatre, a new foyer and an upgraded technical installation for all kinds of performance events, Brighton Dome and Corn Exchange is an extraordinary venue for Brighton.”
Tenderstream Head of Research