A planning application has been submitted for the only purpose-built circus skills training space in Gloucestershire, designed by Millar + Howard Workshop.
The proposals for the transformation of the New Mercury Building in Cinderford, Gloucestershire designed by award-winning, local architect Millar + Howard Workshop will include an additional space which celebrates light, height and movement for a locally celebrated circus school and other performance arts users run by Cinderford Artspace.
Architect Tomas Millar, founding director of Millar + Howard Workshop said: “The expression of structure is as much about suspending the acrobats as it is about holding up the building. With an emphasis on natural light and ventilation, we’ve incorporated internal side balconies to the new training space to give the feeling of watching from within the gantry while simultaneously creating a performance space adding flexibility to the utilisation of the building as a whole.”
The application also proposes adapting the current space to accommodate more community art and craft workshops, a cafe and accessibility. With a focus on a simple yet honest use of materials, this proposition would provide a practical and robust structure which as Tomas Millar stated: “Reflects the ethos of Cinderford Artspace: the new spaces would work both individually and together as a united whole to properly serve the diverse range of individuals and groups who use the building.”
Artspace’s Artistic Director Sally Gibson added: “We’re so pleased to get to this milestone stage of this project. Artspace is a crucial amenity to so many and these new and adapted facilities will make an immeasurably positive impact on all our users which is currently over 10,000 a year.”
Millar + Howard Workshop used Virtual Reality (VR) to assist with the design of this building and also used this technology during the public consultation process. Sally Gibson confirmed: “The use of the VR headset provided stakeholders with a real sense of what the new space would look and feel like to actually be in. The experience Millar + Howard Workshop provided helped them become fully engaged and supportive of all the adaptations.
The response to the intended changes, has been overwhelmingly positive from the local community indicating how vital the facility is to its community. Both Artspace and Millar + Howard Workshop made extra efforts to involve the people who will ultimately use the venue.
Sally Gibson explained: “Children, young adults and adults, some with challenging physical, emotional or mental health issues, all use the facility for a broad range of activities. Accommodating all these aspects was our main aim and something we have been able to achieve in the plans.”
Tomas Millar continued: “This has been a collaborative process and we’ve enjoyed working with those who currently use the space, in order to design something that can be used to its full potential and enjoyed for generations to come.”
Location: Cinderford, Gloucestershire
Current gross internal floor area: 419sqm
Proposed gross internal floor area: 543sqm
Client: Cinderford Artspace
Architect: Millar + Howard Workshop
Building Control: Cook Brown
Planning officer & Council: Jo Gallagher, Forest of Dean
Structural engineer: O’Brian Price
M&E consultant: National Design Consultancy
QS: Adams Fletcher & Partners
Acoustician: Mach Acoustics