Text description provided by the architects. One of Hull’s legacy projects following UK City of Culture 2017, Hull Venue (now the Bonus Arena) is a high-quality destination venue, the first UK facility of its type and size to provide a flexible front of house space and deliver a mixed programme of entertainment, conference, exhibition and banqueting using the same space.
The venue includes a 3,500 capacity multi-use auditorium with retractable seating and moveable acoustic wall for adaptable configurations. Along with food and beverage outlets and dedicated breakout spaces, there is 2000m² of exhibition space throughout the building.
The site is a landmark gateway to the city, south of the city centre, with Princes Quay and the Old Town to the east and Hull Marina and the Fruit Market to the south and south-east. The brief emphasised Hull City Council’s aspirations for regenerating this part of the city and building on Hull’s musical heritage.
Careful choice of colours and materials ensures the venue contributes positively to the city townscape and delivers excellent acoustic performance. The design concept expresses the internal uses:
- Main body - golden, metal-clad, sloped and curved volume forming the auditorium
- Support wings - grey masonry cladding, housing public areas fronting the southern plaza, with event production facilities to the rear
- Refurbished and re-clad car park – light grey, metallic mesh cladding
The dynamic form of the building creates a modern landmark for the city and is driven by its internal uses. The flexibility of the auditorium space is a major feature of the venue’s design including retractable seating on the event floor, removable seats and rostrums on the upper tier, a sliding moveable wall which divides the auditorium into two spaces and a removable conference stage on the upper tier.
The adaptability of this venue allows it to support a diverse range of activities. The new inclusive public realm, with generous plazas of hard and soft landscaping, creates pedestrian links directly connecting the venue to the bars and restaurants of the surrounding city streets and adjacent shopping centre.
Early business planning and benchmarking to establish the venue size and uses were essential to achieve resilience.
“AFL Architects was appointed by NPS on behalf of Hull City Council to design and deliver a 3,500 capacity arena including a wider masterplan that incorporated a multi-storey car park and associated landscaping. Their experience of spectator venues, designing in flexibility, value added design and knowledge of BIM were of the highest calibre. The Bonus Arena has turned out to exceed all expectations and we would not hesitate in recommending AFL Architects for future projects of this nature. “
City Manager, Major Projects and Infrastructure
The venue is sited sustainably on brownfield land providing a landmark destination that adds to the vibrancy and viability of Hull city centre. The official opening was in August 2018 and showcases Hull’s ambitions to build on the economic and social impact generated by the 2017 UK City of Culture status.