A brand new £37m theatre for Chester’s Storyhouse

Tetra Tech provided planning and public consultation services for Storyhouse, one of the UK’s largest regional arts projects. Designed by architects Bennetts Associates, it transformed Chester’s Art Deco Odeon cinema into a cultural centre after a decade-long absence of a city centre cinema and theatre. 

All images © Bennets Associates 

Storyhouse is the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year construction project led by Kier Construction for Cheshire West and Chester Council.  

Storyhouse has been carved out of the Grade II listed shell of the former Odeon cinema, alongside a new brick and translucent glass extension. The Storyhouse library, restaurant, and independent cinema are housed in the former Odeon’s streamlined art-deco interior. The uniquely flexible 800/500 seat auditorium, 150-seat community studio and rooftop bar are housed in the remarkable new extension. 

Paul Shuker, former Tetra Tech project director who worked on Storyhouse, said, “This is a hugely exciting project and we are extremely proud to have helped deliver such a successful and much-loved scheme that will be embraced by local and creative communities.” 

Principally funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council and Arts Council England, with substantial funding from credit card expert MBNA, Storyhouse represents the largest public building ever in Chester. Full of new creative spaces, the theatre transforms in the spring and autumn from an 800seat proscenium arch presenting national and international touring productions, to a more intimate 500seat thrust in the summer and at Christmas.  

Other spaces include a 150 seat studio theatre, open plan foyers, hospitality spaces, and a library that spills across all areas of the operation – including a dedicated children’s library complete with wet play, arts and crafts spaces and a storytelling room. 

Located in the heart of Chester, the building hugs alongside the town hall and cathedral – completing a trinity of cultural, civic and spiritual public spaces. 

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