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The National Skills Academy - The Backstage Centre

Purfleet, Essex

The Backstage Centre main entrance small

Sector: Cultural, Education, Interiors
Client: National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural skills
Project value: £11,000,000
Project stage: Complete

The practice were delighted to have had the opportunity to complete The Backstage Centre for The National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural Skills at the High House Production Park in Purfleet, Thurrock.

The centre is a unique 3,100sqm state of the art, purpose built training facility for the complete range of technical and backstage skills associated with the theatre and live music industries. In order to produce a building model which offers the maximum flexibility to deliver the widest possible range of technical and production courses, it was crucial that specialist parties were involved in the design stage, with the role of industry experts being essential to the production of a design which is functionally efficient whilst offering a high level of flexibility in use.

The building recently opened its doors to professional and college learners and received ‘Highly commended’ when nominated for a BCI Building of the Year award. It accommodates industry specific technical training courses and events delivered by both the further education and private training sectors and will act as a shop window for the NSAfCCS as an industry led organization.

The building interior combines both exposed structure and services, and demonstrates high quality interior design and coordination skills of which Gibberd and the NSA are rightfully proud. Primary to the progression of the design was the size of the primary teaching space. The eventual brief requirement was an internal space which is 25m wide by 35m deep with a clear headroom of 15m and space over to provide a technical access gallery, with a structure above capable of accepting a 30 tonne loading. This main space would enable learners to work in an environment capable of mimicking performing arts and live music venues. Whilst training delivery remained the driver of the design, it was also acknowledged that the main space could offer practice and rehearsal space for community groups and live bands. Facilitating this element of the industry became central to providing the most sustainable solution for the building and offers the prospect of ‘live’ training.