The Depot Community Cinema featured in online magazines

The Depot Lewes, has been featured in two recent online magazine articles. The new community cinema designed by Burrell Foley Fischer was created on the site of the former Harvey's Brewery depot, with the screens inserted within the saved brick shell. A new glazed extension houses the box office, café bar/restaurant and film education and training facilities.

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The article published on is written by Michael Doyle, from Doyle Town Planning and Urban Design.

“The building forms a new landmark in the conservation area and begins to complete the setting of the adjacent railway station. The former brewery warehouse was part of the historic Harvey’s Brewery that still dominates the town's river wharves today. The site adjoins former railway yards, which were later given over to station parking. This was a classic gap site between the core of the town and the station that needed to be stitched back into the urban fabric.

The Depot Cinema has reused and extended a redundant semi-derelict warehouse to create a new townscape and a community amenity performing functions far beyond the cinematic experience. This is an outstanding mixed use cultural building and an exemplary piece of placemaking.”

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The article published on by Ian McKay, from BBM Sustainable Design, is entitled “A Cinema in the Park”, and discusses the new ‘public realm’ created by landscaping the former tarmacked service yard.

“One of the more successful moves carried off by the architects was to create one continuous 'L'- shaped volume to serve as the circulation to the screen rooms and double up as the social space which can open out onto the courtyard. Like many English towns, Lewes never really acquired that convivial continental formula of a public space with cafés lining the periphery of a town square. There is a bit of a pedestrianised high street but you could not describe it as an 'urban living room'. Whereas at the Depot, the north and east wings are continued around on the west side with enough landscaped topography and the viaduct beyond to create a horseshoe-shaped courtyard. Thus the whole space is wind protected from three sides of the compass and only open to the south where even winter sun angles can be enjoyed. It undoubtedly will bring cosmopolitan outdoor urban life to East Sussex, essentially a new cultural idiom for local people to get used to.

Another enjoyable result of the project is the sense of well being the building affords to those who use it. It seems to be imbued inside and out with that rare architectural formula of making one feel good. In simple terms it is just providing good environmental conditions for human comfort but its actually a bit more than that. It is an optimised place for convivial social interaction.”

Planning Permission granted for New Housing for the London Borough of Islington on the Wedmore Estate

Planning Permission has been granted for 19 new dwellings on the Wedmore Estate in Islington, London. The scheme is the latest in a succession of new build housing projects designed by BFF for the London Borough of Islington on areas of social housing identified as capable of being significantly improved as better places to live, with new homes and landscaping.  

  The main entrance to the estate, with the existing Weatherbury House on the right and the proposed new block on the left.

The main entrance to the estate, with the existing Weatherbury House on the right and the proposed new block on the left.

BFF's designs have created 19 new build dwellings on existing Council land on the Wedmore Estate, as a result of rationalising the layout of former car park areas. Twelve (63%) are for Social Housing and 7 for market sale. BFF's scheme was praised as an excellent, high-quality, proposal that includes benefits for the whole of the existing estate. No demolition is involved and 16 new trees will be planted, increasing the overall number of trees on the site. The existing, predominately hard tarmac surface will include much more varied planting, structured around entrances and play areas, with improved and more attractive lighting.

  The rear of the proposed new block, with the enlarged resident’s garden and new play area in the foreground.

The rear of the proposed new block, with the enlarged resident’s garden and new play area in the foreground.

No additional parking is provided but the existing provision is laid out more economically, with some spaces located closer to existing building entrances. Clearly marked, safer pedestrian routes using lighter coloured paved surfaces and lighting will be added. The existing, well looked after and well-loved, residents’ garden will be added to and integrated with a relocated landscaped play area. The landscape and planting of this existing garden will for the first time be continuous with the two elongated open spaces to be enhanced and greened between the existing five-storey buildings.

It is the third BFF/LBI scheme to achieve planning consent in the past few months; 41 new homes on the Parkview Estate last October and a further 41 new homes at Dixon Clark Court in March this year.

Official opening of the Campbeltown Picture House

The Campbeltown Picture House, which has undergone a £3.5m restoration and extension, has been re-launched by Nicholas Ferguson CBE, Chairman of Savills and Chairman of the Argyll & Bute Economic Forum.  A Category A Listed building, The Picture House has the joint accolade of being one of Europe’s few surviving atmospheric cinemas and Scotland’s oldest purpose-built cinema still in operation. The centenary project, led by Burrell Foley Fischer, has seen the art nouveau exterior extensively restored and the main auditorium returned to its 1930s design, as well as the addition of a new state of the art second screen, café, education room and other facilities.


Designed by Albert V. Gardner, one of the most celebrated cinema designers in the first half of the 20th century, Campbeltown Picture House opened in 1913. Gardner had studied architecture at The Glasgow School of Art between 1901 and 1905, and the influence of this seminal building is reflected in the Glasgow School Art Nouveau design of the 1913 building. Twenty years later Gardner was invited back to Campbeltown to modernise the interior of the cinema which he did in the “atmospheric” style which was all the rage at the time.

Popular from the late 1920s atmospheric cinemas transported audiences to exotic places such as European courtyards or gardens. The ceilings were often painted with starry skies or with wispy floating clouds and other elements such as trellises, balconies and painted trees created the special atmosphere. Few of these cinemas now survive with Campbeltown Picture House being the only extant example in Scotland and one of only a handful in Europe.


For Campbeltown Picture House Gardner embellished the cinema with a blue sky with moving white clouds projected across it, and two plasterwork buildings (known locally as the “wee houses”) on either side of the screen that gave the ambiance of a Mediterranean courtyard. These special features have been meticulously restored with other elements of the original design such as the stunning art deco lights recreated by contemporary craftspeople.

The re-launch of the cinema marks the culmination of more than three decades of work and commitment by Campbeltown Community Business Ltd to bring this historic gem back to its full glory. 



Nicholas Ferguson CBE said:

“Campbeltown Picture House has been a central part of the life of the town for over a hundred years and today marks the beginning of a new chapter in its long and illustrious history. I am delighted to have been asked officially to reopen the cinema after its wonderful restoration.”

“What we see today could not have been possible without the vision of two very special people, Jane and David Mayo. Through their unfailing commitment, energy and enthusiasm not only has the original cinema been restored to its full glory, but there is now a state of the art second screen, flexible education, workshop and business space and a lovely café.”

 “The restored Picture House will offer a wonderful resource for the people of Campbeltown and the Argyll peninsular, and we hope will attract people from far and wide to come and visit.”


The restoration has been made possible with a major grant from The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and grants from Coastal Communities Fund, Creative Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, Historic Environment Scotland, Argyll & Bute Council, The Robertson Trust, Architectural heritage Fund, and many other donations.

Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland said: “To see this much-loved Picture House as magnificent as it was the day it opened over 100 years ago is a delight. With the help of National Lottery funding, history and 21st century design have come together to create an incredible cultural centre for the local community. Standing proud on the seafront, it will bring joy to those who visit from near and far for many years to come.”


Since reopening last December, the Centenary Project has been well received, bringing back old audiences and attracting new audiences across the age range.  The extended opening hours makes the facility accessible to islanders on Gigha, as well as to residents of Campbeltown and across the Kintyre Peninsular.

The re-launch also saw the first screening of The Wee Pictures, a specially commissioned film. Oban based filmmaking duo Andy Crabb and James Gray have followed the restoration of the Picture House over the last year and a half. Weaving together fascinating footage from the restoration with interviews with key figures from the cinemas past, archive materials and the redoubtable Mr Burnette (played to a tee by Roddy MacEachen) to create a  “Charming, quirky and delightful” portrait of this unique and historic cinema.

For further information on Campbeltown Picture House visit their official website.

Aidan Ridyard to address British Dyslexia Association Conference

Aidan Ridyard is this afternoon speaking about his experience of dyslexia at the British Dyslexia Association’s prestigious Telford International Centre. Through the power of social media an unexpected link was made. Aidan saw a post about the International Conference and posted “Hey there fellow dyslexics: you might be interested to know Telford International Centre was designed by this particular dyslexic!!”

  Telford International Centre by Aidan Ridyard at Hickton Madeley Architects

Telford International Centre by Aidan Ridyard at Hickton Madeley Architects

The 11th British Dyslexia Association’s International Conference (BDA IC) and EXPO is a leading conference on Dyslexia and other Specific Learning Difficulties.

Tom Gray, Chief Executive Officer of the Southwater Event Group, “We are looking forward to welcoming all the guests, delegates and visitors to the British Dyslexia Association International Conference and are thrilled by the coincidental connection relating to Aidan being instrumental in our Centre’s design.  He did a great job as the striking architecture of our venue is regularly and favourably commented upon”.

Aidan described a little of his inspirational journey from a boy who could barely read and write to a successful architect with 25 years in practice, and now a Principal at Burrell Foley Fischer, a practice of 30 people in London and Birmingham.

“I was born in the late 60’s, so growing up there wasn’t much awareness of dyslexia. My parents couldn’t figure out how I seemed intelligent and articulate enough but could barely read and write at school. Fortunately, they heard about a research group at Aston University and took me there in the early 70’s. Lo and behold, when we understood my problem, we could address it!” 

Helen Boden, Incoming CEO at the British Dyslexia Association, explained, “A discrepancy between oral ability and reading and/or writing is often one of the first indicators of dyslexia in a child’s first few years at school.“

  Telford International Centre by Aidan Ridyard at Hickton Madeley Architects

Telford International Centre by Aidan Ridyard at Hickton Madeley Architects

Dyslexia affects approximately 10% of the population. Many adults and children with dyslexia struggle to fulfil their potential, as a large percentage of the population still does not understand what dyslexia is; the difficulties which the condition presents and how to support someone with dyslexia. Dyslexia is not an obvious difficulty; it is hidden. As a result, people with dyslexia must overcome numerous barriers to reach their full potential and recognise their differences as strengths.

After being diagnosed with dyslexia, Aidan Ridyard managed, through much hard work, to get O and A levels then to go on and be awarded a first-class degree in Architecture. Despite his high level of academic achievements, he still finds its challenging to read out loud, but has found ways to make his skills eclipse his difficulties.

Recently, Aidan Ridyard spoke about careers in architecture at the Skills Show, NEC. After the presentation a young lady approached him and said, “I really like architecture, but I’m worried I couldn’t do it because I’m dyslexic.“ When he replied to say that he is too and that she’d be a better architect because she’s dyslexic, he was rewarded with a wonderful smile! 



Depot Lewes shortlisted for South East LABC Building Excellence Awards 2018

The Depot Lewes has been shortlisted for South East LABC Building Excellence Awards 2018. The Local Authority Building Control awards celebrate achievements in the construction industry. They reward excellent buildings, outstanding companies, and partnerships and individuals that go that extra mile. The Depot has been shortlisted in three categories, Best Change of Use of an Existing Building or Conversion, Best Public Service Building and Best Inclusive Building.

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The Depot is a new three-screen community cinema on the site of the modest but much loved existing warehouse of the old Harveys brewery depot in Lewes. The three screens have been discreetly inserted within the saved brick shell, with the major design move being to attach a new glazed extension with the depot structure fully visible as the historic backdrop to the new box office, café bar, restaurant and film education and training facilities. Reflecting the historic site layout of orchards and meadows, the former tarmacked service yard is landscaped to provide a new public realm. 

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The project has also been shortlisted for an RIBA South East Award and the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence 2018 in the excellence in planning for heritage & culture category.

The Depot Cinema, Lewes shortlisted for an RIBA South East Regional RIBA Award

The Depot has been shortlisted for a Royal Institute of British Architects South East Regional Award. It is one of 14 projects shortlisted in the region, from 44 entries, and will now be visited by the Jury Panel, with the winners announced in May. 

James Robinson, RIBA Regional Director said of the shortlist: “We are very lucky to have such outstanding buildings on the shortlist this year. It’s been a good year. The standard and variety of the entries is very high; from small private houses to the larger public and institutional buildings. The shortlist also demonstrates the fantastic amount of design talent in and around the regions, in practices both large and small, local and working nationally or indeed, internationally.

“The region has an amazing architectural heritage with buildings that have the capacity to amaze, inspire and improve our quality of life. This year’s RIBA Awards shortlist and the winners we are about to celebrate, show that they are still being built.”

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3 new screens and new place in the community

The Depot is a new community cinema for the town of Lewes, in East Sussex, built on the site of the old Harvey's Brewery depot. It shows feature and independent art-house films, as well as hosting events, exhibitions and festivals, and provides facilities for film education and community activities. A café/bar and restaurant allow filmgoers to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat at all times of day.


BFF’s approach

Burrell Foley Fischer were commissioned by Lewes Community Screen, who built and operate the new venue. BFF’s radical approach was to retain the much loved existing warehouse building, a popular landmark in a prominent location close to the town’s railway station, and insert the three new screens (140, 129 and 37 seats) within it. A new glazed foyer houses the box office, café/bar, restaurant, and film education and training facilities, giving a contemporary setting with the former industrial building as a visible backdrop. Reflecting the historic site layout of orchards and meadows, the former tarmacked service yard is landscaped to provide a new public realm.  It includes native and local plant species providing seasonal colour and a small orchard and wild flower meadow. 

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The inspired brief

The Depot is a privately funded philanthropic project, delivered without any draw on public funding. The project aims to make a positive contribution to the South Downs National Park and to respond to its unique and special qualities. It is now a contemporary exemplar of local flint craftsmanship. Because of the topography of Lewes and the South Downs, particular thought was given to the design of the roofscape, which is visible as a fifth elevation, and it features flint paving and a green roof planted with chalk loving plants, all found in the SDNP. There was extensive consultation with local access groups to ensure a welcoming and accessible facility.


The screens and backdrop spaces

Screen 1 has a stage and the technical infrastructure for small scale comedy acts and music performances and live music events are held in the café/bar. Screen 3 is available for private screenings and events and benefits from its own bar/lounge. As well as a cinema, the Depot has a café/bar and restaurant open throughout the day. It provides a welcoming and safe environment for all sectors of the community and visitors to Lewes. Proximity to the station makes it accessible to visitors from the wider district. 

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Local creativity

As well as the use of local flint in the design the project also celebrates local creativity. The foyers can accommodate the mounting of temporary exhibitions in addition to the permanent display of Stephen Chambers ‘The Big Country’, which has been donated by the artist. The acoustic wall panels in Screens 1, 2 and 3 are digitally printed with a reproduction of the life-size animated figures painted on the walls of the Depot by Julian Bell, when he used it as his studio prior to its conversion. There are facilities for film education, including a small film library and study space, and a multi-use room with a flat floor that is used for a range of training and workshop events. The extensive external landscaping incorporates facilities for outdoor screenings and events.

New Housing for the London Borough of Islington at Dixon Clark Court granted Planning Permission

Planning Permission has been granted for BFF’s scheme for 41 new dwellings at Dixon Clark Court. The scheme is the latest in a succession of new build housing projects designed by BFF for Islington Council on areas of social housing identified as capable of being significantly improved as better places to live, with new homes and landscaping.

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The existing Dixon Clark Court estate consists of a single residential tower surrounded mostly by tarmac and concrete except for a fenced-off communal garden and a grassed area and trees that screen it from the busy Highbury Corner roundabout. Planned improvements by TfL and the London Borough of Islington will replace the existing roundabout to create a new publicly accessible Arboretum.

The 41 new apartments, 27 for social rent, are arranged in individual houses around the existing tower to place it in a mews setting. It will establish a new enhanced garden setting for the existing tower, and the existing 59 flats will have, for the first time, a directly accessible communal south-facing garden. The western boundary is to be defined by retaining the majority of existing mature trees, within an improved amenity garden accessible to residents and informally planted in a wild meadow style with some car parking alongside, just to meet the current need.

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A new residential building onto Canonbury Road frames the existing tower to give a new active street presence and entrance to the estate and some enclosure and shelter to the new internal, shared garden spaces.

The mews houses range in height from one to four storeys and contain a variety of unit types and sizes. These are planned with generous ‘through’ spaces between them with courtyard gardens and roof terraces.

These ‘through’ spaces allow the passage of light, air, and views and establish an individual identity and human scale for each group of dwellings, with ground level entrance doors. Views both in and out of the site will be experienced by Dixon Clark Court residents and the residents in the neighbouring buildings and the conservation area.

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The scheme provides 41 new dwellings, well within the permitted density for this city centre site, and there will be an increase in usable, ‘green’ ground-level space. There will be no demolition except for small stores that will be re-provided. Roof terrace areas and greened roof areas will be additional amenities. An added bonus is that the garden spaces are directly accessible from all of the dwellings, making them more practical and likely to be used. A significant increase in the number of trees on the site is planned to provide shade and variety, and to define new spaces. These will more than compensate and exceed the few trees lost as a result of the proposals.

Commendation for Depot at Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design

We are delighted that the Depot, Lewes, was awarded a Commendation in this year’s Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design. The cinema was selected as just one of three projects to be recognised in this category, from the 234 projects entered into the 2018 Civic Trust Awards. The Commendation states that 'the design, layout and location of the Cinema maximises inclusive access in all respects', and that it 'provides welcoming and accessible, cultural and social facilities for visitors across the age and social spectrum regardless of abilities'.

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The Depot is a new three-screen community cinema on the site of the modest but much loved existing warehouse of the old Harveys brewery depot in Lewes. The three screens have been discreetly inserted within the saved brick shell, with the major design move being to attach a new glazed extension with the depot structure fully visible as the historic backdrop to the new box office, café bar, restaurant.

The Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design is given to projects which have demonstrated excellence in providing a scheme which is accessible for all users, from people with decreased mobility, to parents with small children, to people with sensory impairments and everything in-between. 

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This award recognises BFF's long-standing commitment to inclusive design. Previous BFF cinemas that have won accessibility awards include Broadway, Nottingham’s Media Centre, which was given an Adapt award in 1998 and Norwich Cinema City which won the East of England LABC Award in 2008 for Best Project for Access and Compliance with Disability Regulations and went on to win the National award for that year.  Most recently Newlyn Filmhouse was awarded Best Inclusive Building at the South West LABC (Local Authority Building Control) Awards 2017.

Slab completed for new arts centre at Sherborne Girls

The main contractor has been making good progress on the new Arts Centre for Sherborne Girls over the past few weeks, and the concrete was poured for the main slab over half term week. The next stage is for the CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) sections to arrive from the production plant in Austria and be erected.

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The new Arts Centre, located at the heart of the campus, will comprise a new recital hall with 300 fixed seats (or capacity for 560 for school assembly). A multifunctional link building will provide a social space for exhibitions, display space to showcase talented artists, host talks by guest speakers, match teas and social events, whilst anchoring the new performing arts centre to the existing Art Building and Music Department. Once the new Arts Centre is complete, the music school will relocate and the Student Centre will be converted into the new Drama School.

Hall For Cornwall refurbishment to commence this summer

Hall For Cornwall has announced that, this June, they will close for an ambitious and much-needed refurbishment of their theatre, seeking to safeguard the heritage of the building and transform the venue into a dynamic and high-quality environment that will give the people of Cornwall access to the best performing arts to rival any city in the country.

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After six years of planning, the funding is now in place to enable this exciting project to move forward, which will see the auditorium increase in size, enabling the theatre to attract top West End shows and promote and support creative talent, alongside developing their work with schools and young people. In addition, new cafés and bars, a Heritage Lottery funded project and new digital creative business hub, will combine to create a venue that will continue to inspire, educate and be enjoyed.

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Upon the foundations of the existing site, the project, designed by Burrell Foley Fischer, will unearth the history and heritage of the Grade II* listed building and create a new theatre within, alongside an improved café, bar and public spaces. The theatre's new home will be a vital community asset and one which will continue to inspire, engage, educate entertain and challenge all audiences, firmly placing them at th