LCE Blonski Architects were involved with the Playhouse following on from a Design Competition won by Andrzej Blonski and his team. The Grade B1 Listed Buildings are located on the Derry City walls and were made up of two buildings – St Mary’s and St Joseph’s schools attached to the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy, close to Ferryquay Gate.
The new look Playhouse comprises of a 175 Seat Theatre, an extensive Education and Outreach Department, a Dance Studio, a gallery and is home to several cultural/art based groups and tenants.
The practice have re-configured the use of spaces within the existing listed buildings, and in combination with new build to the rear of the premises, have solved the major deficiencies that existed and introduced a new gallery space, a foyer hub, offices and workshops all flooded with light. Circulation problems have been resolved and the theatre, while still situated in the same place, now provides a variety of stage arrangements and increased seating capacities through the use of flexible retractable rostra.
Wherever possible the existing materials have been retained and renovated. The original windows and blinds have been repaired and put back, the external elevations have been re-rendered and the existing building re-roofed with the three copper lanterns refurbished and retained.
Pauline Ross, founder and Artistic Director, described the rejuvenated facility “…the spirit and creative energy of the old building flows seamlessly into the new: nothing has been lost but all has been gained. New wells of light and sound fill the buildings with joy and light.”