11 May 2017
We are delighted that Storyhouse, Chester’s new theatre, cinema and library, has opened today. WYG provided town planning and public consultation services for the project as part of a multi-disciplinary team led by Kier Construction for Cheshire West and Chester Council. The project won last year’s Royal Town Planning Institute North West Award for Collaboration.
Storyhouse is the UK’s largest regional arts project to open this year. Designed by architects Bennetts Associates, Storyhouse is the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year construction project to transform Chester’s Art Deco Odeon cinema into a cultural centre after a decade-long absence of a city centre cinema and theatre.
Storyhouse has been carved out of the Grade II listed shell of the former Odeon cinema, alongside a new brick and translucent glass extension. The Storyhouse library, restaurant and independent cinema are housed in the former Odeon’s streamlined art-deco interior. The uniquely flexible 800/ 500 seat auditorium, 150-seat community studio and rooftop bar are housed in the remarkable new extension.
Principally funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council and Arts Council England and substantial funding from credit card expert MBNA, Storyhouse will be the largest public building ever in Chester. Full of new creative spaces, the theatre will transform in the spring and autumn from an 800 seat proscenium arch presenting national and international touring productions, to a more intimate 500 seat thrust in the summer and at Christmas. Other spaces include a 150 seat studio theatre, open plan foyers, hospitality spaces, and a library that spills across all areas of the operation – including a dedicated children’s library complete with wet play, arts and crafts spaces and a storytelling room.
Storyhouse is located in the heart of Chester, set alongside the town hall and cathedral – completing a trinity of cultural, civic and spiritual public spaces.
Paul Shuker, WYG’s project director for Storyhouse, said: “This is a hugely exciting project and we are extremely proud to have helped deliver such a successful and much loved scheme that will be embraced by local and creative communities.”
Image credit: Peter Cook for Storyhouse