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Storyhouse, Chester Theatre

Client:          Chester West & Chester Council

Location:      Chester

Contractor:  Kier

Architect:     Bennett Associates & Ellis Williams

Opened in May 2017 in the heart of Chester, Storyhouse is Chester’s £37 million new theatre, cinema and library.  The award winning renovated 1930s Odeon building now houses an 800-seat auditorium, a 200-seat studio theatre, a 100-seat boutique cinema, bars and a restaurant.

Chester Library moved in, with study spaces and books spread across the building. Family-friendly activities occur all around and a new children’s area provides creative entertainment with arts, crafts and storytelling.

The Challege of an Art Deco Building

The project presented an opportunity for architect Bennett Associates & Ellis Williams to create an innovative city-centre public building, re-occupying the art deco cinema interiors and re-inventing the perception and use of a city library.

The Art Deco brick walls and historical interiors needed to be retained, but the existing spaces in the building weren’t suitable for the theatre and cinema Storyhouse wanted to create. This meant designing the new additional spaces around the maintained features.

The Archaeological Findings

Re-programming was necessary early in the project as the site was excavated after a two-month archaeological dig. Evidence was exposed of a Roman barracks building and a Roman road, along with finding pottery shards, coins, cistern pits and terracotta roof tiles. An exhibition of finds was hosted in a visitor centre on-site for the public to see.

Volunteers from Chester Archaeological Society find Roman items.


Procedures and Solution

The project required a high level of collaboration and engagement between several stakeholder groups. Specialist consultants were brought in for the heritage work and several key supply-chain partners worked with designers in specific workshops.

Project funding was received from Cheshire West and Chester Council, Arts Council England, MBNA (principle sponsor) and a number of other Trust Foundations, each with unique completion requirements.

CCN Project Spec

We were more than happy to be part of the Storyhouse project supplying 264nr laminate faced doorsets.

  • Performance acoustic ratings up to 46dB
  • Fire rated FD60s
  • Dual colour laminate doors
  • Glazed Screens with integral blind units
  • Framed wall panelling


Since opening Storyhouse has won 10 awards, including the Public Building award at the Brick Awards, RIBA North West Award and LBC ‘Best Change of Use of an Existing Building or Conversion’.

The Arts Council awarded Storyhouse their highest ever score (97% survey satisfaction).

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