Chichester Festival Theatre

Powell & Moya, Chichester, 1962


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View of theatre in context 

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  • View of theatre in context    
  • Detail of auditorium wall    
  • Staircase enclosure and entrance    
  • General view showing the tent like shape    
  • The southern corner of the theatre    
  • Stage manager    
  • The auditorium showing three of the vomitories    
  • The stage from the upper tiers; electricians gallery in the girder    
  • The upper stage is demountable and flexible    
  • Detail of the bearing of the ring girder    
  • Etrance to the upper tiers    
  • Foyer bar and box office    
  • Junction between concrete and glass    
  • One of the main entrances with the timber and glass staircase    
  • Site plan    
  • Plan at gallery level    
  • Section looking towards the stage    
  • Section through stage    
  • Detail section through wall    
  • Section through edge of stage    

The first professional theatre built in the UK to provide a projecting open stage with the audience seated round it on three sides

The architects brief was for a festival theatre, with an open stage, at the lowest possible cost and, allowing for a relatively inexpensive range of seat prices.

The design takes the form of a hexagon. A lot of normal theatre accommodation has been included within the main structure by squeezing them within the buildings envelope. Temporary huts are used when extra space is needed.

The auditorium seats 1360, and is supported on six concrete ribs, with three of them cantilevering to form a covered entrance. The timber roof and lighting gallery are supported by a hexagonal ring girder formed from steel tubing.

The decor is neutral in mood to focus attention to the stage. The walls are in graduating shades of grey. The audience are led into the auditorium through a glazed foyer, providing a gradual transition from park to theatre.


  • Begun: May 1961
  • Completed: 1962
  • Floor area: 2,253m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £95,064
  • Funding: Fundraising, public subscription and commercial sponsorship
  • Tender date: Apr 1961
  • Procurement: RlBA with quantities.
  • Address: Oaklands Park, Chichester, PO19 6AP, United Kingdom

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