Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts
The University of Sussex is a leading higher education teaching and research institution located near the city of Brighton on England’s south coast. As part of a continual strategy of investment in its estate, Sussex recognised an opportunity to re-invent the Grade II* listed Gardner Arts Centre as the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts – an interdisciplinary arts hub for the benefit of Sussex students, staff, and the wider local community.
Initial redevelopment plans for the Centre were strongly focused on drama use and proved to be running over budget. Sussex took the decision to re-appoint the design team for the project, seeking new theatre and acoustics consultants who could work imaginatively within budget and create spaces more supportive of music and multi-media performance.
Anne Minors Performance Consultants and Sound Space Design were appointed by Sussex to collaborate with architects RH Partnerships and key University staff, to design and deliver a new interior for the auditorium and a new technical infrastructure for the building; one which would better meet the requirements for flexibility and inter-connectivity demanded by contemporary interdisciplinary arts practice and research. Acoustical quality in the auditorium needed to be addressed, auditorium seating and staging replaced and redesigned, the auditorium’s lighting, sound, audio visual and data systems replaced and redesigned, and those technical systems linked to five satellite rehearsal /performance spaces in the building.
Working with competing constraints of space and heritage, we sensitively designed detailed alterations and additions to the auditorium shell and increased sound isolation, delivering a superior acoustic suited to the spoken word but with ample warmth to support musical performance. Our new design of seating and staging arrangements greatly improved audience comfort and sightlines; and allowed the flexibility for performances to be given throughout the building in a variety of single-sided and multi-sided stage configurations, with either raked seating or flat floor. Meanwhile our new design of the technical infrastructure supports a myriad of potential uses of the auditorium and interlinked permutations of the auditorium and five satellite spaces – experimental music, conferences, drama, multi-media performances, and sonic art installations.
The Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts opened in 2015 and has established itself as an important place both on the University of Sussex campus and in the life of the students and staff; an innovative hub and resource for performance, debate, teaching, research, and community engagement.
Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts – 01
Your heart instinctively lifts as you enter and the sight lines, acoustics and overall design do everything they can to enhance your enjoyment… Sussex now possesses an arguably unique resource – an elegant and exciting meeting point for the university community, professional artists and the surrounding community.