Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts


The University of Sussex






Civic Trust Regional Finalist 2015; WAN Awards 2015: Longlisted in the ‘Best Adaptive Reuse’ category; BD Architect of the Year 2016: Shortlisted in the Education category


completed 2015


Grade II*

Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts

rhp have excelled in their recent comprehensive work on the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. We now have an Arts Centre that is extremely stylish, complete with spaces accessible to all, that serve artists and audiences alike.  

Michael Attenborough CBE

rhp has worked closely with the University of Sussex on a number of their campus projects. This iconic Grade II* listed building – formerly known as the Gardner Arts Centre - was designed by renowned architect Sir Basil Spence in the early 1960s and opened for use by the University in 1969. Following the deterioration of the building fabric and function, it subsequently closed in 2007 and was being used as a storage space.

Following detailed discussions between English Heritage and Brighton and Hove City Council’s conservation team, we were asked by the University to investigate a sensitive regeneration of the theatre, allowing it to remain flexible, experimental and innovative, whilst also being practical and functional.

Our design addressed the building’s previous shortcomings, making it fit for contemporary use. The design promotes the flexibility of the auditorium with end-stage, in-the-round and thrust arrangement seating for performance and conference events.

The dramatic space is capable of hosting flat floor events, promenade performances, interactive installations, experimental and ambisonic music. Acoustically and technically, the building is able to accommodate professional productions.

Outside of the main drum of the auditorium, the towers offer provision of first class teaching and learning facilities and the original Spence-designed public spaces have been restored offering a café, bar and exhibition spaces.

The revitalised facility is at the centre of practice-based arts programmes on campus and also available to the wider community. The building was re-named the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) in commemoration of the University’s former Chancellor, the late actor, director and producer, Sir Richard Attenborough.

For me personally, its renaissance, now in my father's name, means a huge amount and, were he alive today to see it, I know he would feel very proud and extremely honoured.

Michael Attenborough CBE

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