BakerHicks to support regeneration of Coventry cultural landmark

by Georgie Baxter

BakerHicks, the Warwick based multi-disciplinary design and engineering company, will deliver a range of innovative civil and structural engineering solutions over two phases to support the regeneration of the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry in 2019.

With an overall brief to engineer significant improvements to the existing theatre to attract new visitors whilst still appealing to its traditional audiences, BakerHicks is working closely with architects Corstorphine & Wright and consultants Tandem Projects to make their vision a reality.

This vision includes the upgrade and refurbishment of theatre’s main auditorium, café, restaurant and front of house areas, to provide visitors with an improved experience and allow for the stage area to be more easily adapted for different performances. The design will also support the theatre’s sustainability requirements, incorporating a number of highly sustainable features to improve the theatre’s carbon footprint.

Coventry will become the City of Culture in 2021 and is undergoing substantial regeneration of its city centre. Significant investment has already been made in new student accommodation, hotels and retail premises, the theatre management recognises the importance of harnessing these investments to maximise their own revenues and opportunities.

Although it is still early days, Steve Pinnegar, the lead civil and structural engineer on the project for BakerHicks, does not underestimate the scale of the task ahead: “Working safely and efficiently in the tight confines of an existing building where there is limited space will be a test for our teams,” he said. “The structural alterations being discussed will require an innovative approach and close consultation to deliver a result worthy of such an historic building. As a local company ourselves, we are delighted to be helping to bring the theatre to life.”

Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre was built in 1958 and is very much a building of its time with liberal use of heavy concrete and brutal architecture. A prominent and well-known destination in the city centre, the building is Grade II Listed, adding another layer to the challenge of its regeneration. Close attention is being paid to retaining and re-using existing fixtures and fittings as far as possible.

The theatre last underwent major refurbishment in 2007 and is one of the largest regional producing theatres in the UK.

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