Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, UK


Architect
City Architect's Department
2nd stage - Stanton Williams
Date Built
1958
Location
Corporation Street, Coventry
Description
The Belgrade Theatre sits at the corner of Corporation Street and Upper Well Street in Coventry city centre.  It was built between 1953 and 1958 as part of the reconstruction of Coventry after World War II.  In 1953 a consignment of Yugoslavian beech was donated to the theatre by the City of Belgrade and as a token of appreciation the theatre was called the Belgrade Theatre.



It was the first full-scale theatre built after the war in Britain.  It was part of a mixed-use development that included 21 flats and street-level shops along Corporation Street.  The theatre's exterior was clad in Portland stone and glass.




The main auditorium is fan shaped and originally had seating for 911 although that has been reduced over time to 858 today.  When it opened it had 14 boxes that project from the side walls and 4 on the back of the stalls.  These have been consolidated into one box each side with the technical boxes between them.  The stage is 30 feet deep with a proscenium arch that is 30 feet wide and 18 feet high.

The double-height foyer contains mosaics by Martin Froy and fine hanging lamps by Bernard Schottlander.  During a refurbishment in 2006 the foyer was restored to its original appearance.










In 2002 the architectural practice of Stanton Williams were commissioned to, " ... provide the Belgrade with a second auditorium, expanded foyers, and improved backstage facilities. Our work complements and restores the Grade II-listed Modernism of the original whilst at the same time giving Coventry a bold contemporary landmark."  They add that the extension they created (seen on the right of the image below), " ... is strongly vertical, contrasting with the lower-slung horizontals of the original theatre. Through the combination of differently-sized volumes plus the contrasting use of coloured renders and translucent panels, it functions as a beacon that signals the theatre‚Äôs presence within an evolving cityscape and which responds to the scale of an adjacent new mixed-use development."




The theatre describes itself as, " ... the major arts and cultural facility in Coventry and the only building-based professional producing theatre company in the city. It aims to present a broad spectrum of excellent work and produces a wide range of shows.'