The Forum 2 CGI

- Hospitality + Leisure

The Forum 2: The next step in Southend’s cultural rebirth

South Essex College
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

Hospitality + Leisure

Interior Design


Liz Jarrett


Every successful project deserves a sequel. The Forum – designed by ADP in 2013 – has transformed Elmer Square in Southend into a cultural hub, and the Council decided to team up with South Essex College once again for a “younger sibling” nearby.

Our brief was to design a dramatic building that would complement the Forum’s bold design, and that would house cultural, music, and performing arts teaching spaces for the College. These spaces would rub shoulders with public facilities including a café and restaurant, and an important part of our challenge was exploring how best to arrange the spaces according to who would use them.

Approach + Solution

Delivering a project that satisfies two clients requires a genuine commitment to communicating and listening. From the very outset of the project, we worked closely with both the College and the Council, analysing the site early on so that we could inform the client about what was possible – and what challenges we would face.

The result is a building which cleverly mixes public facilities with specialist spaces, extending the Forum’s function to bring the whole community together. From

the square, the building’s dynamic, imaginative exterior complements the Forum’s more formal appearance, and hints at the performance teaching which happens inside. We used a triple-floored, irregular colonnade to extend the building into the public realm, giving it a welcoming entrance that perfectly expresses its purpose: the Forum 2 is a space for the whole community, and a creative addition to Southend’s cultural scene.

“We’re extremely excited that planning has been submitted for our new provision in Southend. When completed, the new facility will allow us to increase our popular digital, media, music and performing arts offer in Southend, and provide the town with a new restaurant, benefitting students and the local communities we serve.”