Planning Submitted For Birmingham Hippodrome Campus

Tue, September 19th, 2017

New York loft inspired rooftop extension at Birmingham Hippodrome campus

A striking new rooftop extension to Birmingham Hippodrome’s campus – the home since 1990 of Birmingham Royal Ballet - designed by UK architect practice Austin-Smith:Lord has been submitted for planning approval. Austin-Smith:Lord was appointed by the Hippodrome and Birmingham Royal Ballet to design the extension in central Birmingham. The Hippodrome campus, which comprises the 1,850-seat Hippodrome Theatre and 200-seat Patrick Centre, DanceXchange and Birmingham Royal Ballet, is the busiest venue for dance in the UK outside of London.

 The extension, which will be known as the ‘Dance Hub’, will create 675m² of new space for professional and community dancers including a large dance rehearsal studio, ancillary facilities and office space. With a range of groups using the new facilities throughout the week, an industrial interior design style with open exposed structure and a ‘New York Loft’ aesthetic was adopted. The extension renews Austin-Smith:Lord’s collaboration with Birmingham Royal Ballet which began when the practice designed the full refurbishment of the company’s studios and offices in 2014. It is hoped that construction will begin in Spring 2018 with completion in Spring 2019.

Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Birmingham Hippodrome says:

“It has been very exciting to work with Austin-Smith: Lord, engaging all the dance community in Birmingham, to come up with new studio and office space that will be of great benefit to the independent dance sector. It will also provide working space for new Hippodrome resident company OneDance UK from Spring 2019.

“Birmingham Hippodrome is already renowned nationally as a great collaborative hub for all sorts of brilliant dance activity, and works closely with Birmingham Royal Ballet and DanceXchange to deliver an ongoing dance programme to more than 100,000 people annually. We consider this new development to be a wonderful asset for the whole Birmingham cultural community - another feather in our cap!”

Lead architect, Rob Firman of Austin-Smith:Lord, describes the design references for the new building:

“We are delighted to design this new landmark building that will create such opportunity for the diverse dance community of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands.

“Occupying such a prominent position, the new Dance Hub will be a beacon for the dance community so it was important that the design express the vibrancy of the activity within.

“To achieve this, we took inspiration from the peacock. Behind the stunningly beautiful plumage, a complex structure changes colour with the angle of incident light. Similarly, for the Dance Hub, colour and form have been used to manipulate light. Through iridescence, angles and layers, light will interact with the surface material creating a perception of movement and fluidity both inside and out and generating an ever-evolving and dynamic building experience.

“The primary elevations also take on a saw-tooth form with strips of mostly north-facing glazing. Along with the shingling of the cladding and the north lights of the roof, daylight will be drawn into the Dance Hub creating a bright and uplifting space for artistic expression.”

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