Monday, 30 April 2012

BFF 30th Anniversary - Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

With the 2012 Snooker World Championships underway it seems an appropriate time to look back at BFF's refurbishment and remodeling of the tournament's spiritual home, the Crucible, Sheffield.

The hosting of the Annual World Snooker Championships at the Crucible since 1977 has meant that the venue holds a special place in the affections of people, not just in Sheffield but across the country and internationally.  The redevelopment was phased, and each phase delivered on time and on budget, to allow the theatre to reopen each spring to host the Championships, ensuring that the international showcase for Sheffield continued uninterrupted.  The remodelled and refurbished theatre has been warmly received by all those involved with the snooker, including the players and the audience.

We have curated a gallery of some of our favorite images of the theatre published on Flickr.

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Monday, 23 April 2012

BFF 30th Anniversary - The Lux Cinema

The Lux Centre Cinema, the home of the London Film Makers Co-op, opened in Hoxton in September 1997.  At night, the two-way projector cast images onto the screen as well as into the square outside. Slate floor-tiles spilt onto the pavement, and video pits on the floor of the foyer showed obscure one- minute films by local multimedia artists. Still in the foyer, a glass- panelled alcove flowed down from the ceiling like a waterfall. Engraved on the panes a photographic image of the ruched curtains that used to adorn traditional cinema screens. The seat in the middle was reserved for the proverbial kissing couple in the back row. 

The Lux was not just an arthouse cinema, it was also intended as a cut-price centre for experimental film-makers. The auditorium had a flat wooden floor with removable seats for multimedia and live performances, music and dance, conference and film production. Acoustic panels along the walls rotated 180 degrees, to reveal frosted glass windows when natural light was required. Editing suites and hi-tech equipment were available to hire, and the gargantuan windows of the gallery on the first floor exposed the interior. True to the tradition of this working-class area, it was a state-of-the-art cinema that served a functional purpose. 

Unfortunately the rapid regeneration of Hoxton led to rent prices more than trebling and this became a key factor in the eventual demise of the LUX as a venue based organisation in 2002.

Monday, 16 April 2012

BFF 30th Anniversary - Angell Town

The Angell Town project is a pilot scheme in Brixton, South London, which addresses the design and management problems typical of a 1970s deck-access estate. The initiative to improve the environment of what had become a ‘sink estate’ came initially from the tenants, who were very keen to make sure that the proposals by the London Borough of Lambeth were tailored to the needs and desires of people of the estate.  In 1988 three projects were initiated; a Workspace Project using derelict ground-level garages; an Enterprise Centre for training and employment opportunities and a Pilot Project to replan the deck-access housing.

The urban design objectives were to reintegrate the estate with the surrounding areas of Brixton by re-establishing a street based urban layout; to establish an active public realm at ground level; to establish a hierarchy of public and private space; to de-industrialise the estate; to create clear, safe routes for people who use and live on the estate and to solve a variety of related problems to do with security, refuse collection, dangerous parking and traffic, and the general hostility of the surroundings.

The project won many awards including Community Initiative Award 1983, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1991, Times/RIBA Community Enterprise Award 1989, Civic Trust Award 1990, and The Communities Projects Foundation Award for Partnership.

In 2008 the ongoing success of the project was acknowledged by Baroness Whitaker in the House of Lords. “ A few weeks ago I saw in Angell Town in Brixton the rehabilitation of exactly one of those estates, accompanied by new building, which created attractive, safe and affordable homes within a strong community, steered by residents’ own wishes.  Nearly three-quarters of them said that they now felt safe, that they were satisfied with their new homes and that Angell Town was now a pleasant, friendly and attractive place to live.  A few years ago, half knew a victim of crime and it was a deeply unpopular place to live.”  

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Demolition, Deconstruction and Digging

Mark Foley worked with Shape East recently, when they ran the third in their series of Kettle's Yard workshops, using guest professionals to bring to life built environment topics for primary and secondary schools.  

The Space Makers Project follows the building process of the new Education Wing at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge. Over a two-year period, Kettle's Yard are working with two schools, two artists, Shape East and project evaluators Flow Associates. The project will see the artists work to creatively develop the knowledge and skills of the young people in the fields of architecture and the built environment. Different built environment professionals will be involved in each session, to support the artists and provide their professional expertise.

In March, the Comberton Village College BTEC Art and Design pupils met with Mark Foley to delve into the world of demolition and deconstruction, led by artist Raksha Patel.  They discovered how buildings are demolished and the emotive response felt by those experiencing the sight of a demolished building as well as the demolishers. These were linked to artists such as Gordon Matta-Clark (Anarchitecture), Do Huh So and Mike Nelson.  Video clips of 1960’s tower blocks being demolished in the 70’s and 80’s introduced the young people to the awe surrounding the act of demolition leading to the impact that the footage of the Twin Towers made on the world. The pupils led their own deconstruction session, tearing, scrunching, cutting, taping, reforming, drawing and re-assembling. They created sculpture, which others destroyed and recreated to explore issues of transformation, fragmentation and meaning.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

BFF 30th Anniversary - Interchange

The project for Interchange Studios, completed in 2000, involved the construction of a new Weekend Arts College and the conversion of the former Hampstead Town Hall, a Listed Grade II building into a new headquarters for charities, voluntary organisations and the University of the Third Age whose activities are centred around the arts, training and people with disabilities.

The building accommodates many of the organisations under the umbrella of Interchange Studios, providing offices, a library, function and meeting-room spaces, a performance hall seating 250 people, foyer spaces, and a cafĂ©/bar for both visitors and occupants alike.  The building is linked to a new extension by a glazed atrium art gallery space. 

The new extension is occupied by the Weekend Arts College, providing music, dance and drama for young people, including those with disabilities.  The College comprises two new rehearsal studios, music practice and recording studios, and affiliated storage, changing rooms and office spaces.

Twelve years later Interchange continues to thrive and has provided support to many people of all ages.  Amongst those who have benefited from the venue include members of the street dance group, Diversity, winners of Britain's Got Talent in 2009, and Ms Dynamite who said "WAC was the foundation of the experience and expertise I needed to become the artist I am today". 

Monday, 2 April 2012

BFF 30th Anniversary - Collins Music Hall

Burrell Foley Fisher LLP were invited to participate in a limited competitive selection process for a new theatre venue on the site of the former Collins Music Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 1957.  

The brief called for an adaptable theatre space of 600-700 seats to address the different requirements of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre thrust stage productions and those of the Manchester Royal Exchange in-the-round productions, as well as end stage formats for other access.  The alternative in-the-round, thrust and end stage options are manipulated using towers and seating wagons floating on air castors

Nothing remains of the former auditorium save an empty space (last used as a timber yard) buried deep within the site and accessed only by a long carriage passage.  Waterstones bookshop already occupied the front of the building facing Islington Green.

A new wrought language was developed for the auditorium drawing inspiration from the structural clarity of gasometers, or the emcompassing excitement generated by the form of a bullring.  The foyer area was to be multi-layered, with a glazed roof and west wall to entice patrons along the dark passage.  Tantalising views are given into the auditorium from the foyers through sliding shutters, which close when the show is ready to begin.