MICA Architects' new theatre in Berwick - beacon of culture and creativity
Above: CGI from MICA Architects of part of the interior of the new Maltings theatre and arts campus at Berwick
MICA has been appointed to lead the new multi-million-pound redevelopment of an arts venue for Berwick. The new Maltings venue the firm says will be a vibrant multi-purpose cultural and entertainment complex when its doors open in 2026.
Building on the successful track record of the Maltings (Berwick) Trust’s main venue which is located on Eastern Lane in the centre of the town, the project will deliver a major transformation and expansion of the current venue and with impact on the town and surrounding area.
MICA Architects were selected from a five-strong shortlist. The practice has a strong track record in arts, education, and cultural destinations. Projects include the transformation of world class cultural venues including Fairfield Halls in Croydon, Hay Castle in Wales and the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith.
The architects are supported by an internationally renowned arts team including theatre consultants Charcoalblue, structural engineers eHRW, building services engineers Max Fordham, Jane Simpson Access and Inclusion Consultant, GrossMax landscape designers and Turner & Townsend as Cost Consultants.
The development of the venue in Berwick, which is being funded principally from the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal supplemented with a contribution from the County Council, is planned to start on site in early 2024. The Maltings is England's most northerly venue, with panoramic views across the 17th century old Berwick Bridge and the Tweed Estuary. It was built in the ruins of an early 19th-century Maltings and was opened in 1990. Every year it hosts more than 600 live events, workshops and digital cinema screenings, selling almost 60,000 tickets and serving as a key cultural hub for North Northumberland and the eastern Scottish Borders.
Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “We're delighted to have reached this milestone – it's a crucial stage in this ambitious project:
“Despite the Maltings’ strong reputation and significant impact on the town and its local economy, its potential to grow audiences and draw more visitors to Berwick is constrained by the current facilities.
“This project will become the centre-piece of a wider programme of investments that are strengthening Berwick’s position as an attractive visitor destination and regenerating the town.” Sensitively capitalising on the site’s heritage location and panoramic views, the new, larger, and fully accessible Maltings venue will provide:
– A new entrance and welcome space – a new auditorium with more seats and a larger stage, giving new opportunities to secure larger touring productions and higher profile live performances across theatre, music, comedy, and dance – two dedicated cinema spaces that will enable live events and cinema screenings to run simultaneously – a destination restaurant and bar – a studio theatre – a range of flexible-use spaces to host educational activities, meetings and events
Ros Lamont, CEO of The Maltings (Berwick) Trust said:
“Appointing a design team is an exciting and significant moment for the Maltings and our partners, marking the start of detailed design work and consultation in order to finalise the ambitions of the new building and ensure we all deliver the best possible outcome for Berwick. “Our firm intention is that our new venue serves as a beacon for culture and creativity across our region - exceeding audiences’ and artists’ expectations of an accessible 21st century public space, providing a year-round events calendar which complements our on-going visual arts programme, and guaranteeing a wealth of new opportunities for everyone to enjoy.“ Paul Mullin, Associate Director of MICA said:
“There are so many exciting opportunities for new spaces to come together with the existing to create a vibrant cultural campus. Within this inspiring context we would like to offer The Maltings new ways of engaging with its audiences.”