Liverpool PLayhouse Initial sketch view of the Playhouse by Haworth Tompkins p Everyman Theatres

Initial sketch of a refurbished Playhouse. Credit: Haworth Tompkins via Everyman

Team to explore Liverpool Playhouse refurb

Architects Haworth Tompkins will lead a multidisciplinary project team tasked with weighing up options to refurbish the 156-year-old theatre and protect it for generations to come.

Haworth Tompkins will work alongside Liverpool-based architecture studio MGMA, theatre consultant Charcoalblue, landscape architect Layer Studio, and local engagement expert Placed, to draw up a capital feasibility study for a potential refurbishment.

The team has been appointed by the Liverpool Playhouse in partnership with Liverpool City Council, Liverpool City Region, and Liverpool Business Improvement District, following a competitive tender process that involved submitting early-stage drawings of what a refurbished theatre could look like.

Located on Williamson Square in Liverpool city centre, the grade two-listed theatre has been entertaining audiences since it opened as a music hall in 1866 and is regarded as a cultural gem of local and national significance. It developed into a repertory theatre in 1911, and a modernist extension was made in 1968.

However, the theatre is now in need of major refurbishment, according to the LMTT Trust charity that runs it – “to ensure that it survives for another century and is as environmentally sustainable as it can be”.

Haworth Tompkins and the rest of the project team will study ways in which a refurbishment of the playhouse could improve the environmental credentials of a listed building, act as a catalyst for a cultural regeneration of the surrounding area, and set an exemplar for refurbishments of similar-age theatres across the world.

The initial value of the feasibility study contract is £50,000, but this is to be increased by £20,000 – subject to the playhouse securing additional funding – for a selected practice to prepare a separate study called the Williamson Square Activation Study. This would look at how the playhouse refurbishment could facilitate a wider regeneration of Williamson Square and the surrounding streets, Place North West understands.

Said Mark Da Vanzo, chief executive of the LMTT Trust, which runs the Everyman theatres as well as Liverpool Playhouse, said: “We’re looking forward to working alongside the city council, city region, and Liverpool BID, to reimagine the Liverpool Playhouse for the future with the Haworth Tompkins team.

“Together with its partners, Haworth Tompkins presented a proposal that honours our heritage and place in Williamson Square while bringing the theatre into the 21st century for staff, artists, audiences, and the communities we serve.

“[Haworth Tompkins] having led on the redevelopment of the [2014] RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Everyman in Liverpool, which had accessibility and sustainability at its heart, we can’t wait to see what might be possible for the Playhouse.”

Lucy Picardo, director at Haworth Tompkins and Playhouse project lead, added: “We’re thrilled to be appointed. We already have a strong attachment to Liverpool through our work at the Everyman, led by my co-directors Steve Tompkins and Roger Watts, and much experience working with listed historic theatres such as Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

“With a great team of partners on board, we’re looking forward to delivering an ambitious, sustainable, practical yet joyous vision for the Playhouse and Williamson Square.”

The team will begin work immediately, building on their existing knowledge of the theatres and the city region, and the report is due in the spring.

Liverpool Playhouse refurb Initial sketch view of Williamson Square by Layer Studio p Everyman Playhouse

Initial sketch view of Williamson Square post-theatre refurbishment. Credit: Layer Studio via Everyman

Your Comments

Read our comments policy

Great to hear, the 60’s extension was a clever solution to add extra facilities and looks like it is part of the refurbishment proposals – the legacy of a great Architect – George Hall lives on…..

By Adam Hall - Falconer Chester Hall

Hopefully it will also include a refresh of their productions… it’s been a while since it last tempted me!

By Jeff

Adam – What a great connection, and a credit to the city that you’ve remained to practise in the city where your father made such a positive impact in the 60s. Hopefully you will be able to contribute further though your participation in this scheme?

By Anonymous

The Playhouse is part of the fabric of Liverpool and has to be fully re-furbished for now and future generations.
As regards Williamson Square this needs more than a superfiicial makeover, as per the grahic , it needs a total re-think, as it could and should be a lively location with smart cafes, bars, seating, and landscaping, and not those boring ,slim , ugly looking trees that Liverpool City Council seem to favour. They need to factor in that M&S will be moving soon so something will need to be done with that side of the square , meanwhile the old George Henry Lee building is partly filled with a down-market occupant when really something much more stylish is required.

By Anonymous

Williamson Square needs a big food produce market under a big glass canopy

By Anonymous

I do hope they can refresh the old original ticket booth half way up the stairs for the circle if I am correct, it looks like something straight out of the Phantom of the Opera, very eerie.

By Liverpolitis

In the ’90’s I was the lead on a corporate membership and hosted some great evenings at the Playhouse, seeing some brilliant productions and big name actors. It’s been beset by financial problems for many decades but it’s a Merseyside gem and I really hope it can land the funding and kick on. I hope it doesn’t lose its’ historic, unique character in the process.

By Ian Jones

What will happen to the 5 million pound rusting water feature on Williamson Square?..come on every positive and ignore it

By John lynn

3 locally well known fountains in Liverpool city centre ,and none of them working, what does that tell us about a city council`s pride? The historic Steble fountain, the ” Bucket ” fountain, and Williamson Square fountain. I don`t know of any other city which would allow this situation to prevail for such a long period.

By Anonymous

Related Articles

Sign up to receive the Place Daily Briefing

Join more than 13,000 property professionals and receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox


Join more than 13,000 property professionals and sign up to receive your free daily round-up of built environment news direct to your inbox.

By subscribing, you are agreeing to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

"*" indicates required fields

Your Job Field*
Other regional Publications - select below