Polka Theatre

Type: Extension & Refurbishment
Duration: 58 weeks
Value: £4.8m
Architects: Foster Wilson Size
QS: Beadmans LLP
M & E: Skelley & Couch
Photography: Hufton & Crow Ltd

Polka Theatre, the much-loved children’s theatre re-imagined into a state-of-the-art hub for the community

The Polka Theatre has undergone a complete redevelopment to increase its capacity and facilities, whilst providing additional income streams through the creation of multi-use spaces, a café and residential accommodation. Whilst the existing theatre itself remained largely untouched internally (the theatre made up just 10% of the buildings footprint), the rest of the site has been heavily redeveloped.

Creative construction maximises theatre’s potential

A new 100 capacity, double storey, standalone Adventure Theatre Building was constructed to the rear, with a dance studio on the upper floor, both of which have been acoustically separated from the rest of the building. Two shop units next to the theatre have been incorporated into the new ground floor of the theatre. We installed a new passenger and evacuation lift, designed specifically for the theatres requirements and to comply with DDA.

The units were heavily adapted with structural modifications to achieve a large café and seating area whilst creating an active frontage for the theatre. The café is now integrated with the new entrance foyer, which features some impressive bespoke joinery. Externally, the building has a fresh new look, after receiving a comprehensive overhaul including a colourful steel fret installation, appealing to the theatre’s young customer base.

Innovative Stakeholder Engagement

We took a collaborative approach to our stakeholder engagement and made it a priority to maintain good relationships with local residents as this was important to the client. We created a WatsApp group for queries on the project in addition to the usual mail drop, which enabled us to deal with any issues quickly and effectively. The Polka Young Voices panel even came along for a site visit. The group of children aged between 4 and 12 years old visited the site during construction to ensure they felt involved in the remodelling journey.

Design Team

Architect Foster Wilson Size
Client Polka Theatre
Structural engineer Price & Myers
M&E consultant Skelly & Couch
Quantity surveyor Beadmans
Landscape consultant Patrick Collins Design
Acoustic consultant Arup
Lighting consultant 18 Degrees
Theatre consultant Charcoalblue
Outdoor play frame The Space to Play
Bespoke carpet Ege Carpets
External Signage and Fretwork Newman Displays
Interior design (public spaces) Laura McEwen
Seating providers (main theatre) Evertaut
Project manager Cragg Management
Principal designer Beadmans
Approved building inspector Butler & Young
Main contractor ITC
CAD software used Vectorworks

Polka Theatre Virtual Tour

We ran a competitive tender process for the project and were impressed with ITC’s professionalism and problem solving approach. Building a theatre can be a complicated and detailed job, budgets and timelines are always tight, and ITC’s approach gave us confidence in their ability to work with us to deliver a great project.

Zoe Robinson | Theatre Producer | Polka Theatre

Polka Theatre  Project Gallery

Photography: Hufton & Crow Ltd