University announces completion of Attenborough Centre refurbishment

The Attenborough Centre now hosts a state-of-the-art 350-seat auditorium. With a clear floor, the auditorium provides standing room for 480 people.

The University of Sussex has today (04 August 2015) announced the completion of building works on the newly renovated Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.

The multi-million pound refurbishment of the Grade II* listed building creates a world class, contemporary arts space.  The public performance programme will launch in spring 2016.

The iconic building, designed by Sir Basil Spence and formerly known as the Gardner Arts Centre, has been closed since 2007. It has now been transformed by award-winning architectural practice, R H Partnership Architects (RHP), into a modern, flexible environment for exhibitions and performance, and an important new teaching and research space for the University. The building takes its new title in tribute of the University’s former Chancellor Lord (Richard) Attenborough and his family.

University of Sussex Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Farthing said: ‘The University of Sussex has a long and proud history of nourishing artistic endeavour, and this refurbishment will go a considerable way to furthering this legacy. The Attenborough Centre is to become a creative hub for the University and the wider arts community both on a local and national level. It represents our deep commitment to investing in our campus and to providing an arts venue to be enjoyed by all. ’

Phillip Naylor, a director at RHP’s Brighton studio, commented: ‘The work we’ve done on this beautiful listed building has helped transform it into a modern interdisciplinary arts hub fit for both public and performers. We’re not alone in looking forward to the re-opening of its doors, and to welcoming the masses to once again enjoy its unique charms.’

The space now hosts a state-of-the-art 350-seat auditorium, extensive gallery and display areas designed for art and audio visual installations, rehearsal studios, breakout creativity zones, and a new café and bar - to be enjoyed by students, staff and the public.

As one of the first university campus arts centres, the building has a storied 50-year history, and has previously seen internationally renowned performers such as Sir Ian McKellen, Gemma Jones, and comics Jack Dee and Lee Evans grace its stage. Sculptor Barbara Hepworth and modernist painter Marc Chagall have both exhibited works, and the likes of contemporary dance companies Ballet Rambert and physical theatre troupe Spymonkey have also appeared at the venue. In its new guise, the Attenborough Centre will continue to support emerging talent and established acts alike.


Notes for editors

University of Sussex Press Office: Jacqui Bealing and James Hakner, Tel. 01273 678888, email  @SussexUniPress



About the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts


The Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts is a state-of-the-art cultural hub for the University of Sussex and the wider arts and local communities to come together for regular performances, screenings, exhibitions and conferences.  Located on its Falmer campus, the Centre also provides an important new teaching and research space for the University.


The Attenborough Centre is a Grade II* listed building accommodating up to 700 people and containing a 350-seat auditorium, gallery space, studio for teaching/research, café/bar and social meeting area.


The Centre is named as a tribute to the involvement of Lord Attenborough and his family with both the University of Sussex and the arts.


Formerly known as the Gardner Arts Centre, the Attenborough Centre will officially relaunch with a public programme in Spring 2016, following a bar/café fit-out and installation of state-of-the-art lighting, sound and audio-visual equipment.



Further information is available at

By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Monday, 10 August 2015