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Chichester Festival Theatre


Chichester Festival Theatre – Expertise takes centre stage in theatre refurbishment


The major refurbishment of a key element of one of the UK’s flagship theatres, the Minerva Theatre – run as part of the adjacent Chichester Festival Theatre – was recently completed on time and on budget, following a fast track four month project.

HPW Architecture were appointed as architects and interior designers for the project and formed part of a design & build contract team with main contractor Brymor Construction and Mace project management.

Works to the Minerva Theatre, which has an international reputation for creating magical live performances, included the refurbishment of the theatre’s Brasserie and Minerva Bar & Grill. Other works included the upgrade of the main entrance foyer and atrium, box office, staircase, toilets Green Room and back of house areas, including star dressing rooms, as well as an external courtyard.

The Brasserie and the Minerva Bar & Grill benefited from a complete re-design to give them a sleek, light and modern ambience, with a new layout, more seating and space.

The works included the installation of new bars and waitress stations to the 180-cover The Brasserie and the 100-cover Minerva Bar & Grill.

The Brasserie restaurant is open for pre-show dining, serving a contemporary British menu using local and seasonal ingredients as well as an excellent choice of wines. A delightful terrace for al fresco dining has been added, with heated parasols for cooler evenings.

The Minerva Bar & Grill provides a more relaxed atmosphere, offering both main meals, lighter options or simply a drink, and is open until midnight. A particular feature is the selection of 20 gins on offer, which can be accompanied by a local charcuterie plate.

Other works in the project included new joinery and finishes throughout and the detailing of coffered ceilings accommodating colour changing lighting by Arlico Lighting.


In addition, feature walls and frameless glass partitions have been designed and incorporated into the scheme as well as a selection of furniture, seating, fabrics and wall and floor finishes throughout.

With performances scheduled for the new season, the re-design and subsequent build programmes were short and extremely critical, with everyone adopting ‘the show must go on’ mentality regarding timely completion of the project to a high standard.

The project team worked closely with the theatre’s team to manage the refurbishment alongside the existing main Festival Theatre, which remained in full operation during the works, keeping disruption to a minimum.

Alan Finch the Financial Director of the Chichester Festival Theatre said: “We had an incredibly tight timescale between seasons to both design and build the Minerva Theatre refurbishment. HPW Architecture embraced this very quickly and they were able to deliver a concept that met both our design and operational aspirations.

“Their ability to respond so promptly & effectively was a significant factor in protecting a very tight construction period. Having now been completed on time and on budget, we are indeed proud of the light, cohesion and quality so evident in the Minerva refurbishment. We are very grateful to HPW for the huge part they played in the success of the Minerva refurbishment project.”

The theatre can now proudly match its world-class artistic reputation with world-class spaces.

Chichester Festival Theatre was founded by a local ophthalmic optician and former city mayor, Leslie Evershed-Martin, following an idea he had whilst watching a television programme in 1959 about the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre Festival in Stratford Ontario, Canada.

His vision was for a seasonal festival of theatre held over the summer months, held in a space inspired by the revolutionary design of the Canadian theatre.

Working tirelessly with Chichester City Council to get its support and to find a suitable site, he motivated local individuals and businesses to raise the £105,000 needed to make his idea become a reality and the theatre finally opened its doors in 1962.


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