Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham Ladies’ College

Foster Wilson Architects, Cheltenham, 2009


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  • View of auditorium, in a new oval construction, from the gallery    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Lower ground floor    
  • First floor plan    
  • Second floor plan    
  • Section A-A    
  • Section B-B    
  • Roof section    
  • Sketch section through auditoreum showing natural ventilation path    
  • Materials board    
  • External wall detail    

Refurbishment of a grade II* listed Regency villa to provide front of house and teaching accommodation, combined with a new 325 seat auditorium connected via a glass link building

The aim of the project was to provide a school 325-theatre for Cheltenham Ladies' College, where sensitive neo-gothic buildings make up the surrounding context, within a Conservation Area.

The conversion of a semi-detached, Grade II* listed regency villa directly facing the main school building with its grand colonnaded portico has been converted into the theatre’s main entrance and front of house. The secocond semi-detached half has been converted into teaching and backstage spaces.

The 1970s office extension was swept aside to make way for a 730m2 new-build auditorium, comprising a gallery and stalls seating which can be modified to provide for a variety of stage layouts and an orchestra pit. A narrow link between the extension and the existing villa serves conveniently as a circulation core for all three wings.

Around the site, new landscaping has removed existing car parking and reinstated the original 19th century garden layout with perimeter hedging and carriage drive.


  • Begun: Jan 2008
  • Completed: Jun 2009
  • Floor area: 730m2
  • Sectors: Arts and culture, Education
  • Total cost: £6M
  • Funding: Private
  • Procurement: JCT 2005 with quantities
  • Address: Cheltenham Ladies' College, Bayshill Road, Cheltenham, GL50 3EP, United Kingdom

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