First opened in 1897 as an ice rink, the Brighton Hippodrome on England’s south coast has seen many uses over the years, from a Frank Matcham-designed theatre to a bingo hall, prior to closing in 2006. The Grade II* listed structure was deemed ‘at risk’ by English Heritage and The Theatres Trust and the much-loved Brighton landmark has fallen into a further state of disrepair.
Now comes news that a redesign project by Russ Drage Architects has been approved by Brighton and Hove City Council as part of a wider £18m redevelopment scheme.
Richard Coleman, Chairman of WAN, commented: “We are delighted as a design team to be given the go-ahead to preserve the Grade II* listed Hippodrome. I, as design and heritage consultant, praise the commitment and care of our client, Alaska, the architect Russ Drage, and other members of the team. In the face of much opposition but also much misunderstanding, it’s the building that has won through.”
The design team intends to preserve the building’s auditorium, Middle Street elevation and the Hippodrome House façade, whilst bringing the interior up to modern standards with an 8-screen Vue cinema, a signature restaurant set on a removable floor within the dome, a second restaurant within Hippodrome House, and a new public square. The plans by Russ Drage Architects also include improvements to the energy efficiency of the building, inserting green walls and roofs, and incorporating sustainable drainage.
Chris Moore, Development Manager for Alaska Development Consultants, commented: “Following an exhaustive and comprehensive period of design development and planning consultations, we are delighted to be finally in a position to complete what we started over two years ago. Our aim has always been to preserve, restore and enhance this magnificent old building and now, with Brighton & Hove Council’s consent, we can put our plans into action and bring this famous building back to life.”