New Tunbridge Wells Theatre and Civic Centre

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has approved plans for a new Theatre and Council Office designed by Allies and Morrison. Located at the heart of Tunbridge Wells, and forming a new entrance to Calverley Grounds, the historic valley first laid out by Decimus Burton, the project aims to reinvigorate the cultural life of the town and wider area, and give the town and Borough Council much needed new office space.

The new theatre is conceived as a low-lying pavilion with a colonnaded foyer for public and social areas which wraps around a 1,200 seat auditorium. The theatre shape creates intimacy yet has a large performance room and will give Tunbridge Wells a venue that can host West End productions and world class theatre companies and performances. The foyers connect directly with the landscape, creating a unique audience experience.

Carved into the landscape opposite the theatre, the new office, which serves both Council and other tenants, is fronted by a colonnaded council chamber and public areas. Three levels of car park will be discretely incorporated below ground. Shared visual cues and materiality bring the two buildings together.

A spa town and a destination for recreation and leisure since the Restoration, Royal Tunbridge Wells is a place of small-scale, humane buildings and great architectural richness. In keeping with this, the project will also deliver significant urban improvements. It completes the western edge of Calverley Grounds, which is currently occupied by car parks. The new square between the buildings’ entrance pavilions, designed by Townshend Landscape Architects, provides an entrance appropriate to the park and helps knit together the two disparate parts of the town.