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Plymouth University has formally unveiled its award-winning performance space – The House – a venue with facilities to rival the best university theatre provision in the UK.
At a ceremony attended by cultural and community leaders from the South West and beyond, the new centre was officially opened by director and actress Thelma Holt.
The event featured a stunning contemporary dance performance by the Russell Maliphant Company, giving the audience a taste of the high calibre of performers set to grace its stage.
It also included presentations by university academics, with a range of undergraduate and postgraduate performing arts programmes being taught in the building, and the world-leading Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research calling it home.
Professor David Coslett, Interim Chief Executive of Plymouth University, said:
“This exciting new performance venue, featuring first-class teaching and research spaces, takes our commitment to the performing arts to a whole new level. In recent years, we have consistently invested in our campus to provide students, staff, our partners and the community with access to some of the most advanced facilities in the UK. The House shows we are continuing to do this. Building on our already significant successes, we are creating a future where all our students – in every discipline – have the support and setting they need to fuel ambition and exceed their highest expectations.”
Thelma Holt has worked with many of the UK’s leading actors, directors and producers during a career spanning more than 50 years, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts at Plymouth University in 2010. She added:
“Historically, there have been many launches of great purport from Plymouth. The House follows that very fine tradition, and I am beyond proud to be involved in this inspiring occasion.”
"In recent years, we have consistently invested in our campus to provide students, staff, our partners and the community with access to some of the most advanced facilities in the UK. The House shows we are continuing to do this."
The £7million centre – recipient of Plymouth’s Abercrombie Award 2014 for demonstrating design excellence and innovation – was designed by Burwell Deakins Architects and built by Midas Construction to BREEAM excellent standards.
Versatile and fully accessible, The House features a 200-capacity, sprung-floor theatre, studio spaces and advanced technology. It will provide an exciting new performance venue, creating a first-class touring venue for Plymouth, helping to foster community engagement and attracting artists of national and international standing to the Peninsula Arts performance programme.
It will also incorporate a high-tension wire grid – one of very few in the UK - enabling wheelchair access for students with disabilities to develop expertise in technical theatre including lighting, sound and scenography.
Professor Dafydd Moore, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Plymouth University, added:
“The House is about our investment in our students, attracting and nurturing the next generation of performers by providing them with the facilities and surroundings that will inspire and enable them to fulfil their dreams. It also embodies the University’s commitment to its world class research in theatre, dance and music and offers new opportunities for developing projects and initiatives with partners, both established and new, to further enrich the cultural and creative sector within our city.”
Midas Construction, one of the largest independent construction firms in the South West, won the contract for The House and building work on the dramatic four-storey structure was carefully managed throughout the build process.
Mike O’Neill, divisional director for Midas Construction in Devon and Cornwall, said:
“Creating a new home for Plymouth University’s performing arts faculty, as well as a high quality, modern space for the entire arts community in Plymouth to benefit from, has been a fantastic project which we have been proud to manage. This prominent building has already become a landmark in the city centre, and will truly transform the provision of arts facilities in Plymouth. We are delighted that The House is now an award-winning structure, as well as a vital addition to the region’s arts community.”