Opened in 1978 as Poole Arts Centre, the venue was, at the time, the largest arts centre outside London providing a much needed cultural destination in Dorset. In 2002, it underwent a £8.5 million Heritage Lottery-funded transformation to bring the facilities up to date technically and to upgrade the public areas being reborn as Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts,
subsequently receiving an RIBA Award.
Art installations came in the form of a specially commissioned bar and an all -new imaginative facade to the building that comes alive at night with an impressive display of lighting.
The most recent £5.3m refurbishment was completed in 2016 and was planned in two phases being part -funded by grants from the Arts Council and Poole Borough Council with the remainder raised by the Love Lighthouse fundraising campaign. Following the upgrade of sound and lighting in the Concert Hall and Theatre during 2015, a four -month programme of works in the summer
of 2016 delivered a number of key changes including the transformation of the Sherling Studio, reconfigured main entrance and a new rehearsal/classroom space and change of function rooms to modern conferencing facility along with a number of other peripheral improvements to improve the accessibility of the spaces and energy-efficiency which will result in significant cost savings.
Our work involved supporting the client and design team involved getting under the skin of the project to understand the form of the structure through close review of drawings and other records from both the original construction and the 2002 refurbishment works, followed up by targeted opening up works to either verify the information shown on drawings or to gather further information to inform the design. This approach enables us to advise the team on what is achievable economically as design develops allowing design to evolve to achieve the most economic solution within the bounds of the Architectural vision.
The project involved a number of interventions within the existing steel framed structure from removing loadbearing elements of walls, local removal of concrete floor slabs, supporting new air handling plant within the concert hall roof -space, support of the new entrance façade and a host of other minor alterations.
Photography: Jim Stephenson