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Leicester Performing Arts Centre, Leicester, United Kingdom

Tuesday 28 Oct 2008

An opening act for Viñoly

Leicester Performing Arts Centre by Rafael Viñoly Architects in Leicester, United Kingdom
Will Pryce/Arcaid. Courtesy Rafael Viñoly Architects' 
Leicester Performing Arts Centre by Rafael Viñoly Architects in Leicester, United Kingdom Leicester Performing Arts Centre by Rafael Viñoly Architects in Leicester, United Kingdom Leicester Performing Arts Centre by Rafael Viñoly Architects in Leicester, United Kingdom Leicester Performing Arts Centre by Rafael Viñoly Architects in Leicester, United Kingdom
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08/11/08 chitra, india
This seems to be a innovative and a real extrovert design, though I'm not able to imagine the spaces designed witihin the complex.
03/11/08 ranting lady, london
hmmmm, I'm from Leicester and used to work at the Haymarket theatre which the Curve is supposedly replacing. Went up and had a look last weekend for the first time and spent time with Leicester friends who are in the know.<p>
We walked up to the 'New Leicester cultural quarter', an old wasteland far away from the super duper new shopping centre,where the likes of Carluccio's ,Waggamamma and the the usual mix of designer stores (Zara, All Saints, John lewis, etc etc) have opened ,bringing Leicester well up to speed in 21st century cosmopolitan town status. We walked up the old high st, many shops now boarded up and for rent, the road paved with granite shipped in from china (why when the midlands are full of granite quarrys?)...my first glimpse of Curve, round the corner of this wasteland peeking out behind the old buildings, was a sort of stark Darth Vader like thing that I initially thought must be a car park. As we neared, I saw a sort of modern thing crammed in, rubbing shoulders with two lap dancing clubs,a swingers bar and a kebab house. It didnt look anything like the drawing, but thats probably because I couldnt stand away at any distance from it to get the whole picture.<p>
There was a rather nice little old Deco building to the right of the end of the structure, that seemingly used to have another nice old building beside it that had just been listed , then unlisted at the last minute prior to construction starting,to be replaced by and ugly red brick wall with a bit of glass in it thats also part of the theatre.......<p>
I dunno, 61 million to replace one perfectly good ugly theatre with another one far away from the good bits of Leicester makes no sense to me. I hear the organisation is very top heavy with high paid management. The Initial employment policy has been to not employ ex haymarket back stage staff, a decision that had to be changed as leicester has only a small pool of experienced scene builders, painters and wardrobe people.<p>
Like many government/council funded projects it never seems to be important to run these things as a profitable business,spending the peoples money in a way that enhances the community and provides jobs and entertainment in a stimulating way and brings a bit of magic into the lives of the hard working people whose money financed the whole thing. If I still lived in Leicester i,d be mighty fed up, as it is I can assure you the people i spent time with this weekend who do continue to make there lives in the town are pretty unhappy with Curve and i heard nothing positive about it.Its not a low energy ,enviromental sort of building, that was never a priority , all that glass I expect it will need alot of heating and be hells inferno in the summer......I hear the new plans for the replacement smaller Phoenix theartre are better and being done by the enviromental architect company, so things sound a bit more positive on that one .<p>
I felt so distressed by the whole experience I had to hot foot it to Bruccianni's for a cream bun and a cup of tea, Leicester's wonderful Italian bakery that has been there since I can remember,they make there cakes locally in a wonderfull little factory that still survives the onslaught of progress, a great little local Leicester thing. Then on to Leicester market, to get some lovely local Farmhouse red Leicester, a slab of Stilton and a Melton Mowbray Pork pie...bet these local bussiness people would have a thing or two to say about £ 61 million!!!
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Viñoly's first completed UK project, Leicester’s new “inside-out” theatre, opens 

'Curve', a new £61 million theatre in Leicester, is an innovative, democratic building that respects Leicester’s history, whilst helping to define its future. The building, which is Rafael Viñoly Architects' (RVA) first completed project in the UK, is the result of a close collaboration between the design team, Leicester Theatre Trust and Leicester City Council.

The project is dubbed ‘Curve’ for obvious reasons. And while the Theatre no doubt brings a dynamic new geometry to Leicester’s streetscape, the real innovation here is how RVA turned the building “inside-out”, exposing the production, construction, craft and technical components of the building for all the world to see. There is literally no separation between front-of-house and back of house operations so actors, spectators and passers-by share a common stage.

An anchor for the redevelopment of St. George’s Conservation Area in Leicester, the heart of the cultural district, the theatre features a dramatic four-storey glass facade with metal louvers revealing two main audience volumes, a 750-seat main auditorium and 350-seat studio, and production and administrative facilities behind.

Conceived as islands with a public foyer, a central stage sits at street level between two coloured volumes and a system of metal shutters which, like stage curtains, enable the creative team to place the audience in a variety of configurations. The placement of the stage, foyer and street at one level makes for a clear visual connection between audience, actor and the public and offers up possibilities of traditional and unconventional uses of the space. An L-shaped brick volume houses dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces, production facilities, the ticket office, a recording studio, a kitchen and offices for the Leicester Theatre Trust.

“Curve is an extraordinary contribution to the regeneration of Leicester”, say RVA. “This could not have been if it weren’t for the vision of the people involved. They were interested in this notion of a theatre being an inside-out experience, something in which the production has an interest and value as well as the performance itself.”

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Rafael Viñoly Architects

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