Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - Brighton Dome Corn Exchange

01 April 2022

Conservation & Regeneration

Photo credit: Carlotta Luke

Brighton Dome Corn Exchange (submitted by Westridge Construction Ltd) 

Conservation & Regeneration Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Finalist

Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton Dome & Festival and Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust are working in partnership to secure the Royal Pavilions’ future as a world-class cultural destination to reunite the historic buildings and landscape. Phase one is the major refurbishment of the listed Grade I Corn Exchange and Grade II Studio Theatre.

Built in 1808 by the Prince Regent as a riding house and stables, the Corn Exchange has served many functions, transforming from Victorian skating rink, WW1 military hospital and now a leading performing arts venue. It provides the backdrop to countless significant moments in the city’s history, responsible for thousands of eclectic, pioneering and boundary pushing performances and political movements.

The project restores breath-taking and previously hidden heritage features, provides increased capacity, new viewing gallery and creative spaces for artists to rehearse. Accessibility and comfort for users is key, with full disabled access, temperature control, ventilation systems, retractable seating and new balcony level. State-of-the-art production and digital technology facilities provide better: lighting, acoustics, Wi-Fi, hearing assistance systems and soundproofing allowing the venue to be more versatile.

The Corn Exchange is unique, being the UK’s widest span timber framed building. Paint was stripped from the roof to reveal original 200-year-old timbers. Structural steel tie-rods have been installed to strengthen the frame to withstand the additional load from new lighting and audio rig. 6500m of oak cladding have been installed to walls with 24 hand crafted oak pilasters matching architect William Pordens’ original intricate drawings.

Above the Church Street entrance, visitors are welcomed by Ceres, Roman goddess of agriculture. Sculpted in 1935 by renowned artist James Woodford, Ceres has been restored to golden splendour by specialist local conservator, Sarah Mayfield. The sculpture pays homage to the buildings significant role in Brighton’s agricultural economy.

The smaller Studio Theatre is re-modelled to offer an unrivalled visitor experience. Its unique architectural features have been carefully cleaned and repaired to its former glory with the same high-end interior specifications as the Corn Exchange. New retractable seating adapts the space for a wider range of events.

The council’s commitment to restoration highlights the importance the buildings will play in Brighton’s future as a significant cultural and tourist destination. Attracting over 1.2 million visitors a year, the Pavilion Estate contributes substantially to the city’s economy. The regeneration project develops and broadens the cultural tourism Brighton has to offer, supporting 1,241 FTE jobs and an economic impact of £68m. 

Key achievements:

  • Refurbishment of the widest span existing timber frame (18m wide) in UK.

  • Revealing and restoring multiple historic features throughout the build and reinstating using traditional methods

  • Adding a cultural/community hub to the centre of Brighton by refurbing a key piece of historical building in the city centre.

Client: Brighton & Hove City Council 

Project's Partners: Westridge Construction Ltd, Brighton Dome, Feilden Clegg Bradley, Arup, Max Fordham

Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards finalists here

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