Opened in 1967 by HRH Princess Margaret, the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, Greater Manchester needed a significant facelift to make it fit for today’s theatre going public.
With a £12M budget, JM Architects were asked to reconfigure and extend the original building to provide new facilities for community use, upgraded performance areas and new front of house and back stage amenities.
Their ingenious design includes an impressive modern new façade created using Senior’s thermally efficient SF52 curtain walling. This has been seamlessly integrated with Senior’s robust SPW501 aluminium commercial doors to withstand the heavy use through the new high traffic entrance and foyer, together with SPW600e aluminium windows for added daylight and ventilation.
Extensive alterations to the original structure were needed including partial demolition of the original structure to the front, demolition of the rear 3 storey block, refurbishment of the existing hexagonal auditorium and the building of a new 5 storey rear extension.
The constrained site provided a significant challenge and BIM modelling was used to make sure that the new structure tied into existing levels of the original concrete frame and to minimise any issues on site as new service runs were weaved through the existing and new structures.
The remodelled theatre is now fully accessible with improved acoustics and boasts a new ground floor café, plus a large first floor bar and a multipurpose event space to the front of the second floor. In addition, a modern studio theatre and rehearsal space in the new rear extension enhance the performance facilities alongside the refurbished auditorium.
After being closed for 2 years, the grand reopening coincided with the theatre’s 50th anniversary celebrations and took place in June as Covid restrictions were lifted. The first full production was a hilarious adaptation of the classis Sherlock Holmes story ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.
Funded by Bolton Council and the England Arts Council the refurbished Octagon theatre is now the centre piece of a £1bn masterplan to rejuvenate the town and an iconic cultural landmark that can be enjoyed by all.
Aire Valley Architectural