FX Awards 2017: The Winners

Leisure or Entertainment Venue

Winner: Storyhouse, Chester
by Bennetts Associates

Leisure or Entertainment Venue Winner - Storyhouse, Chester by Bennetts AssociatesPhoto Credit: Peter Cook and Mark Carline

Sponsored by iGuzzini

Chester’s Grade 2 listed Odeon cinema closed in 2007 and remained so until the recent transformation into Storyhouse. The building now integrates theatres, cinema and a city library, revitalising the city’s cultural life with a single building.

Bennetts Associates created an extension for the theatre and studio. The original Odeon houses a library and cinema, and art deco plasterwork was reimagined to create a dynamic new foyer and cafe-bar at the heart of Storyhouse. Steel stairs are suspended like theatre scenery in the glazed gap between old and new buildings.

Library shelving spreads throughout public areas; a children’s library has its own storytelling room. Furniture and signage are informal and create a welcoming, lively atmosphere. The 100-seat cinema is located in a glass-clad box; its curved plan and seat rows are derived from the original Odeon geometry. The 500-seat thrust-stage theatre space – defined by exposed steel and plywood – converts into an 800-seat end-stage format.

The name Storyhouse deliberately reflects the trend for libraries to provide spaces where drama, film and literature combine. The tagline ‘This house is your house, what are you going to do with it?’ hints at the importance of community.

The team justified alterations to this historic building in order to sustain future use; a bold set of proposals emerged for the Odeon that turned the challenges posed by the Storyhouse brief into compelling architectural opportunities.

The judges said:

‘An incredible refurbishment of a heritage building together with a sympathetic extension. This development has reimagined community space in a vibrant and exciting design. Imaginative and creative repurposing of a striking landmark building’

Finalists & judges' comments

Yongqing Square by Daosheng Design
‘In a compact space, yet the interior is considered and detailed with creative use of a restricted palette of natural materials. Calm, relaxing yet refreshing’

TIME BERLIN CLUB by Domani
‘A beautifully considered, clean, clinical and crisp concept. Great use of simple materials, textures, natural light and attention to detail’

G Art Club by G-Art Design International interior architecture
‘Quirky elements of the design give this concept character and a lightness of touch’

Anfield New Main Stand by KSS
‘This striking design marries the heritage of the club, while creating new, vibrant, space fit for the future’

WUHAN INSUN INTERNATIONAL CINEPLEX by One Plus Partnership
‘A dramatic scheme and a refreshingly unique approach to designing a cinema complex. Bold’

Shanghai Omnijoi International Cinema by One Plus Partnership
‘The use of the rails in striking copper against the dark background is fantastic. Imaginative, intriguing, striking’

Physical by Panorama
‘Invigorating space that reflects and supports the space’s physical activities. Powerful interior language, reinforced with strong use of colour, lighting, glass’

Rebel by Studio Munge
‘Fascinating: a modern, relevant, cool nightclub that is then able to transform and change into event and conference space. Very clever'

Avenue Los Angeles by Rockwell Group
‘The design of this restaurant is opulent and luxurious. Surprising and delightful. Plenty to feast the eye on and indulge the other senses’

Light Shower by Studio OFF
‘Thoughtful and naturalistic approach to reinforce and embed much-needed moments of calm’

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