New £16m Dundee centre for performing arts given green light

The modern centre is designed to fit in with its historic surroundings adjacent to the citys McManus Galleries. Picture: Contributed
The modern centre is designed to fit in with its historic surroundings adjacent to the citys McManus Galleries. Picture: Contributed
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A new centre for performing and visual arts is set to be created in Dundee’s former Post Office headquarters – three years after it was snapped up by an independent school.

The city council has given its backing to the £16 million vision for the 19th century building, which is expected to provide a huge boost to Dundee’s cultural infrastructure.

The school believes the site, which is close to both its own campus and adjacent to the city’s McManus Galleries in the Meadowside area, will boast arts facilities “second to none among UK schools.”

The Ward Road building, which was turned into a nightclub in the 1990s, will become home to a 300-seater auditorium suitable for companies like Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre, which is also based in the city, to use.

Specialist facilities for music, dance, drama and visual arts will be created in the centre for excellence,” which is expected to take two years to complete, with work hoped to begin by next March.

The complex, which will feature a recording studio and a roof terrace which will be available for outdoor classes, and for use by arts organisations, community groups and conference organisers.

The High School of Dundee announced in January 2013 that it had snapped up the building, which dates back to 1898, and a neighbouring site for a new “cutting-edge facility”, after identifying a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

One of Scotland’s leading architectural practices, Page\Park, which is behind the restoration of Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building, was hired to design the new school site in December 2014.

Detailed design work is about to get under way while a bid for Heritage Lottery Fund backing is expected to be lodged within months.

Dr John Halliday, the school’s rector, said: “We’ve designed our plans to complement the city’s aspirations for V&A Dundee and the waterfront redevelopment, and to enable the school to make an exciting contribution to Dundee’s burgeoning reputation as a city of culture, initiative and design.”

Nick Parr, chief executive of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre, said: “Having seen inside this historic building recently, I can see the potential for the High School of Dundee and the rest of the city.”