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Our Plan: Restoration and Innovation

“It’s amazing being able to put on our own events, but it would be even better if we had a proper backstage area and really great lighting and acoustics.”


Acland Burghley’s assembly hall is a bit special. It was conceived by the same architects who went on to design the Young Vic theatre, Howell Killick Partridge and Amis. The Grade II listed hexagonal building has been described by English Heritage as the “jewel in the crown” in Acland Burghley’s Brutalist architecture.

However, in recent years, a lack of funding, damaging adaptations and poor maintenance have meant the hall is no longer fit for purpose.

The structure is sound, it is largely waterproof and has heating. But poor insulation means that without significant renovation it’s no longer able to provide the inclusive opportunities for which it was originally conceived.

The staging, seating, acoustics, lighting and ventilation are in desperate need of upgrading, and the space is not accessible for wheelchair users. It is a long way from the warm and welcoming space it once was.

In spring 2020, we instructed specialist architects Reed Watts to draw up detailed Stage 3 design plans and bring the vision to life by:

  • Restoring the heritage interior and sound cladding back to the original design to create world-class acoustics.
  • Creating an environmental solution for heating and ventilation.
  • Designing flexible staging and seating that will accommodate all kinds of groups including performance, arts and sports. In total, 679 sq metres of space will be available.
  • Including disabled access and toilets to ensure all members of the community can participate, both as audience members and performers.
  • Allowing for up-to-date lighting and sound systems to facilitate state-of-the-art performances.
  • Renovating the amphitheatre to provide an outdoor space for events.

Meanwhile, the UK’s first Museum of Brutalist Architecture will be part physical/part digital and will support our heritage outreach work in the wider community. And we’ll create an outdoor performance space and renovate the school’s amphitheatre, made from stones from the original Victorian school on the Burghley Road site.