Oldham Town Hall Refurbishment

Oldham Town Hall is a listed historic building situated in the centre of a 19th century industrial town which has since lost its traditional cotton spinning industry. It was recently named the most deprived borough in England. The building, built in phases from 1841 onwards, was designed to accommodate civic and administrative uses as well as police and courts functions. It was vacated by its main occupier over 30 years ago. Since then all attempts at conversion have failed, because of local economic conditions and the architecture of the building – notably its complex internal layout, many changes of level and poor circulation routes. The building fell into disrepair and was named on a national register of heritage buildings at risk. The client required a solution which would save the building and kick-start the regeneration of the town centre. A multi-screen cinema and family restaurants – although challenging – was seen as the means of achieving both aims. The design solution was to retain as much as possible of the existing structure and create a new-build extension – a glass ‘light-box’ which solved all circulation, level changes and access issues.
Seven cinema screens are housed within the complex multi-levelled envelope of the historic building, some within original rooms such as the courtroom and council meeting room. A new landscaped pedestrian square provides access to restaurants located below the cinema concourse. The scheme has succeeded in providing a much-needed modern family entertainment facility within an historic town centre, and in saving a landmark historic building.