Playhouse set for multi-million pound overhaul

A multi-disciplinary design team is appointed to kick-start what will be a multi-million pound project to refurbish the Playhouse Theatre and Williamson Square in Liverpool. Tony McDonough reports

Initial image offered by architects Haworth Tompkins of the Playhouse


A project to refurbish Liverpool’s Playhouse Theatre and Williamson Square is under way.

LMTT Trust, which runs both the Playhouse and Everyman Theatres, has appointed a multi-disciplinary design team to prepare a feasibility study. It is led by architects Haworth Tompkins who led the award-winning refurbishment of the Everyman a decade ago.

Located in Williamson Square, the Playhouse first opened in 1866. It is considered a “cultural gem of both local and national significance”. However, the venue is now in need of a major refresh, as does Williamson Square itself.

LMTT is working in partnership with Liverpool City Council, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Liverpool Business Company on the project. It aims to safeguard the 156-year-old theatre for “generations to come”.

In 2011, the Everyman Theatre in Hope Street was closed and underwent a major transformation. It reopened in February 2014. Haworth Tompkins won top architecture accolade, The Stirling Prize, for its work on the redevelopment.

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Mark Da Vanzo, chief executive of the LMTT Trust, said: “Together with their partners, they (Haworth Tompkins) presented a proposal that honours our heritage and place in Williamson Square. It brings the theatre into the 21st century, for staff, artists, for audiences and the communities we serve.

“Having led on the re-development of the RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Everyman, which had accessibility and sustainability at its heart, we can’t wait to see what might be possible for the Playhouse.”


Williamson Square
Initial image offered by architects Haworth Tompkins of the Playhouse and Williamson Square
Playhouse Theatre in Williamson Square, Liverpool
Everyman Theatre, Catholic Cathedral
Haworth Tompkins worked on the Everyman Theatre. Picture by Tony McDonough


Haworth Tompkins will work in partnership with Liverpool based architects MGMA, Charcoalblue as theatre consultants, Layer Studio as landscape architects and local engagement by Placed. 

Lucy Picardo from Haworth Tompkins, who is director lead for the project, added: “We’re thrilled to be appointed. We already have a strong attachment to Liverpool through our work at the Everyman, led by my co-directors Steve Tompkins and Roger Watts.

“And we have much experience working with listed historic theatres such as Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Drury Lane. With a great team of partners on board, we’re looking forward to delivering an ambitious, sustainable, practical yet joyous vision for the Playhouse and Williamson Square.”

The team will begin work immediately, building on their existing knowledge of the theatres and the city region, with their report due in spring 2023.

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