Dating from 1873, Devonshire Park has long been a destination within Eastbourne and for the wider south coast – originally playing host to cricket, tennis, racquets and roller skating for the Victorian middle classes. Devonshire Park includes some of the UK’s most distinctive Grade II and Grade II* cultural venues: the 1600-seat Congress Theatre, the smaller (circa 900-seat) Devonshire Park Theatre and the Winter Garden which hosts gigs, banquets and conferences. These buildings sit alongside the park itself which hosts the annual WTP and ATP 'Eastbourne International' tennis tournament.
However, over the years the facilities had fallen behind competitors and were in need of revitalisation. We provided M&E consultancy and designed the internal and exterior lighting schemes.
Prior to the redevelopment, the site had evolved organically and haphazardly over many years; some of this previous work had a detrimental effect on the overall performance of the site. In addition, previous reduced investment in maintenance and refurbishment had led to a backlog of essential maintenance necessary to preserve this historic site.
The new Welcome Building provides state of the art conference facilities with three new air handling units, a low energy natural ventilation system (making use of approximately 140 opening windows), specially designed glazing to block heat from the sun while still providing views out, and state of the art data infrastructure. The new building also has 46 high-efficiency photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity for use in the building and for export to the grid.
The Congress Theatre was completely refurbished and brought back to its original glory. All services were upgraded and replaced with efficient, modern services including new air conditioning and state of the art theatre production systems in the 1600-seat auditorium suitable for a range of uses: from touring West End shows to private conferences. Great care and attention was taken in weaving the many services through the existing, listed, concrete structure in a way that complemented the theatre’s distinctive architectural style.
Our internal lighting design features new, fully dimmable house lighting systems, along with a more cohesive and characterful front of house lighting scheme. Photographs of the original 1963 theatre enabled us to design bespoke replacements for the distinctive original pendant lights which had long been out of service.
Reducing energy costs was paramount and the latest technologies were therefore employed.
A new timber clad players' village was also constructed for the annual 'Eastbourne International' tennis tournament to provide changing and other facilities for the visiting players and delegates. Following its construction, the annual tournament has now been added to the ATP (Men's) tour in addition to the WTP (Women's) tour.
The surrounding public realm has been renewed with new amenity and architectural lighting, maximising the usability and historically significant fabric of the site.
As well as enhancing the world-renowned tennis facilities, the proposed landscape now allows the site to host year-round exhibitions, concerts, cultural events, and outdoor activities.
The development of the area enables the site to perform competitively as a unique and effective modern amenity, with the potential to generate a significant incremental contribution both to the local and the wider Eastbourne economy.
"This is an extremely exciting project that will bring more people to Eastbourne, provide even better facilities for residents and support the sustainability of the park for future generations." - Councillor David Tutt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council