The Quarterhouse Performing Arts and Business Centre in Folkestone designed by Alison Brooks Architects, is a building completed in 2009 that aims to help to revitalise the English coastal town of Folkstone which in former times used to attract a number of well known artists. H G Wells lived there, and other writers, including George Bernard Shaw, Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford and Henry James, stayed in the town. Today, the city which also had an important harbour has lost its former glory.
Roger de Haan, a billionaire who established a Charitable Trust which has bought up more than 60 properties in the Old Town and handed them to the Creative Foundation is poised to change that. The Creative Foundation commissioned the Quarterhouse to Allison Brooks Architects after they won a two-stage national competition in 2005. Construction began in summer 2007 with the support of local goverment funding. The project team included Akera Engineers, Charcoalblue Theatre Consultants, Atelier Ten, GPM Partnership and local contractor DJ Ellis.
The building is a 1550 sqm multi-purpose facility which includes a 220 seat, 500 standing auditorium for music, dance, theatre, film performances and conferences; ground floor foyer and exhibition space; first floor cafe/bar and a top floor business centre for start-ups in the creative industries.
Alison Brooks conceived the building as a beacon that lights up at night to express the animation of the creative life within. It is also an informal urban 'shopfront' building that completes the curved Georgian streetscape of Tontine Street. The fluted mesh cladding was inspired by both the maritime iconography of Folkestone's historic architecture and the translucent scallop shells that arrive in Folkestone's harbour every day.