Burrell Foley Fischer has completed an environmentally responsible performing arts centre in West Sussex


Dennis Gilbert, Burrell Foley Fischer

Burrell Foley Fischer’s New Bury Theatre Performing Arts Centre forms part of Hurstpierpoint College, a co-educational day and boarding school in West Sussex. Situated within a 56-hectare campus on the borders of the South Downs National Park, the flexible courtyard theatre is designed to accommodate drama, dance, music theatre, musical performances and school assemblies.


The CLT and glulam structure is viewed from all directions, so its composition is expressed with the central mass of the auditorium rising in the middle, explains the architect. Four roof vents punctuate the ridge and the ancillary spaces are wrapped as a secondary layer around the outside.

Ground and first-floor plans; sections showing summer and winter ventilation operation

The foyer faces the eastern approach in the direction of the main college buildings and can be used for teaching and rehearsals. Significant areas of the facade are clad in untreated Western Red Cedar. The roof is natural zinc.


Energy use is minimised by naturally ventilating the auditorium, instead of conventional mechanical ventilation by fans and air heating and cooling with its associated intensive energy use. Fresh air is delivered and heat is extracted using the natural buoyancy of the air, combined with an extensive undercroft below the building which cools the incoming air. Stale air is exhausted via the four roof vents on the auditorium roof. The environmental design measures result in a calculated energy consumption of 64kWh/m² per annum compared with 78kWh/m² for a notional typically designed building of this type.

Additional Images


Burrell Foley Fischer
Structural engineer
Structural timber engineer
Price & Myers
Services engineer