Chichester Festival Theatre – Constructing a union of past and present


Chichester Festival Theatre
Single Stage Traditional

“The theatre reopened just 21 months after its demolition began. I am immensely proud of the hard work by our team, we are extremely thankful.” – Alan Finch, Executive Director – Chichester Festival Theatre


As Chichester Festival Theatre marked its 50th birthday, its ageing infrastructure required updating to meet new building regulation demands and increased attendance figures. The project needed to focus on a regeneration rather than a complete redesign, as requested by the theatre board.

The fundamental challenge was to accommodate bringing the theatre up to modern standards whilst maintaining the ambience and charm of the original ‘pavilion in the park’. This involved building around the existing structure and iconic facades to maintain the feel and atmosphere so lovingly created by Sir Lawrence Oliver when it was originally built.

Specific requirements for the project included:

  • Addressing structural weaknesses arising in original design and materials used whilst accommodating expectations of modern audiences, as well as capacity growth
  • Incorporating modern advances in technology and acoustics to enhance the performance for audiences
  • Keeping to tight financial and timetable constraints
  • Ensuring that the theatre’s summer programme was not interrupted during the works by temporarily relocating the theatre, to minimise disruption to the community