The Playhouse's big red doors first opened in 1992 when director Pauline Ross managed to rescue two dilapidated buildings. The former school blocks had only narrowly escaped demolition a few years before when they were Grade II-listed. The Playhouse grew into an award-winning cultural project with charitable status. But a major challenge presented itself as the listed buildings fell into a pitiful state over the next 16 years. Funding of £4.6m was secured for a revamp through the Heritage Lottery Fund and other sources and The Playhouse re-launched on November 27, 2009.
The buildings are next to Derry's 400-year-old city walls, the largest state monument in Northern Ireland. More than 75 per Cent of the former school buildings have been restored, with the heritage features incorporated into the new elements.
The buildings are considered one of the best examples in Northern Ireland of how listed properties can be sympathetically restored and fused with modern design and have won numerous awards, including a British Urban Regeneration Award.
On Friday 27th November 2009, the award winning Playhouse Theatre celebrated its official re-opening after an extensive £4.6m capital renovation project.
Speaking at the opening, Rosemary Kelly OBE, Chair of the Arts Council, said:
"At the Arts Council we are proud to be one of the principal funders of this historically important arts centre. It is a versatile venue that will have touched just about everyone in the North West, regardless of age or background."
"The restored Playhouse will contribute to a whole new lease of life for the North West augmented, as it is, by marvellous new facilities. I have no doubt it will build on its unique heritage in helping to keep the arts at the heart of Northern Ireland's social and economic regeneration."
The redevelopment of The Playhouse was designed by Blonski Architects. The buildings are now one of the best examples in Northern Ireland of how listed buildings can be restored sympathetically, and fused with very modern design to showcase the best of 19th, 20th and 21st century architecture.
Download article from Perspective Magazine.
Download article from Theatres Magazine.
Download article about The Playhouse's prestigious BURA (British Urban Regeneration Association) Award for "Best Practice in Regeneration".