Storyhouse, Chester Cultural Centre

Storyhouse stage

This highly complex award winning project for Cheshire West and Chester Council, including the listed restoration and refurbishment of the Grade II-listed cinema building and part new build, creates a sustainable world-class new arts complex where theatre, film and library services co-exist under one roof. Partly funded by the Arts Council fund for England, it was the UK’s largest regional arts project and biggest capital development in Chester for 50 years.

The centre is a cultural hub where diverse audiences and artists connect and make use of the building in many different ways, and provides a cultural destination point welcoming audiences from the region and beyond. This immensely challenging project has overcome a number of sensitive issues relating to diverse end user groups, local resident concerns, planning, conservation and archaeology approvals.

The project includes a new building containing a revolutionary adaptable 500-800 seat theatre and thrust stage able to transform itself from a summer festival stage into a winter touring proscenium house and a new 100-seat studio venue located above the theatre. Inside the old cinema auditorium the complex includes a new 94 seat ‘boutique’ cinema, restaurant, bar, cafe and the city’s relocated library.

Storyhouse have proudly reported that since opening on 11th May 2017 until 7th December, their visitor numbers have exceeded 500,000.  The library has seen a record number for the borough, an increase of 145% since 2016.  11% of Storyhouse’s visitors have health or disability issues, of which 91% rated the disability access as good or very good.  Furthermore, 52% of visitors said that Storyhouse was important in their decision to visit Chester.

Awards include Historic England – Best Major Regeneration of a Historic Building or Place and 2018 Civic Trust Award –Special Award for Community Impact & Engagement.

Ellis Williams Architects were the Executive Architect working alongside Bennetts Associates as Lead Architect.

“One of the most exciting projects in England at the moment… A powerful, modern, forward-thinking vision.”

Sir Peter Bazalgette – Chairman, Arts Council

“There is such a positive vibe, a real buzz about the opening of Storyhouse… Not only will this help turn the new cultural centre into a focal point of activity in the city, it will also prolong the existence of a library in Chester… Chester finally has the cultural centre it deserves.”

The Chester Chronicle