The Capitol, Horsham began life in 1936 as the Ritz, a single-auditorium cinema in the Art Deco style. Having undergone a conversion in the early 1980’s to a theatre and small cinema, the facilities were proving increasing restrictive to the ambitions of the Centre, and in 2000, Horsham District Council appointed the Architects to examine the operation and put forward a redevelopment strategy.
The decision was taken at an early stage to retain the existing building. Despite its poor 80’s conversation, elements of the original fabric still spoke of the early days of cinema going, and presented the opportunity to enhance this spirit through a number of sympathetic interventions.
The first of these moves was the addition of a double-height structural glass entrance foyer. Suspended from a slender steel frame, the new single glazed façade preserves views through to the existing Deco façade, whilst providing the Centre with the strong street presence it lacked. Housing box office, café and viewing balcony, the space is animated by the public throughout the day. At night the effect is emphasised by a lighting scheme which picks out the key planes, and further enlivens the space. A new scenery dock has been added against the existing fly tower, expressed as a simple white cube, the space allows the Theatre to stage bigger and more complex productions.
The second addition to the site was a further story to the existing side extension, accommodating a day-lit Studio theatre, dressing areas and associated plant. Through this addition, the existing façade has been remodelled in white render. At the first floor, slot windows express the volume of the Studio behind. At ground floor the plane of the façade as been ‘peeled’ away to accommodate a new meeting room and address the form of the adjacent landscaping.
The recent refurbishment of The Capitol is just one chapter in a long history of entertainment and the arts in Horsham. The new venue offers unrivalled all round facilities including: Theatre 2 Cinemas Studio Gallery Space Stylish Café