“Happiness Centre” would connect with Royal Court Theatre and include smile-themed façade
AHMM has drawn up proposals to create a four-storey annex to Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre that would be named in honour of Ken Dodd.
The practice has a long record of upgrade and expansion work on the grade II-listed venue, including the 2017 refurbishment of neighbouring pub the Penny Farthing as the theatre’s Courtyard bar.
Under the latest proposals, that building would be demolished to make way for a 1,743sq m structure called the Sir Ken Dodd Happiness Centre, a nod to the late comedian’s signature song. Dodd died in 2018 at the age of 90.
The Happiness Centre would feature a reception area and café on the ground floor, kitchen and dining space on the first floor, studio space for events and workshops on the second floor, a permanent exhibition in memory of Dodd on the third floor, and a terrace lobby on the fourth floor.
Additionally, all levels would boast toilets and levels one to three would have annex space for the theatre providing extra dressing rooms and offices.
AHMM’s design for the centre features a smile-shaped window on the third floor – with the glass extending to the upper floor’s balcony.
The practice’s proposals also feature a four-storey “tickling stick”, a super-sized version of one of Dodd’s hallmark props.
AHMM said its original brief from client the Royal Court Theatre and Dodd’s widow, Anne, had been to provide a permanent home for the Happiness! exhibition, currently being staged at the Museum of Liverpool, and to deliver extra space for the Royal Court.
It said the additional facilities in the annex would improve backstage areas of the existing theatre and allow it to “attract larger travelling productions as part of an ambition to increase the reach and audience”.
As well as AHMM, the Royal Court Theatre’s project team includes structural engineer Elliott Wood; services, acoustic and fire engineer Arup; and project manager and cost consultant Modero.
Liverpool City Council has not set a target determination date for the application.