Transformation Theatre

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Theatres have traditionally been detached from the architecture within which they inhabit. This stems from the problem of flexibility, which inhibits the building to transform easily into the form required by the theatrical production within. The discourse of stage design and architecture have thus embarked on two distinct and parallel paths.

The World Stage Design 2013 is an opportunity to redefine the two disciplines, unifying architecture with stage design to create a cohesive theatre experience. Whereas the traditional theatre building differentiates between the outer skin of the theatre and the theatre itself, the temporary pavilion is designed to combine the two; the theatre becomes the outer skin of the building. Arranged radially around the centre stage, the curtain of the theatre acts simultaneously as the perimeter wall to the theatre, thus allowing the actions within the theatre to express itself to the outside. The stage grows to encompass the theatre.

Located within the courtyard to the old stable mews for Cardiff Castle, the theatre brings in the surrounding context by blurring the distinction between the stage and the audience. The highly flexible curtain to the theatre allows productions to extend their seating and even the stage into the courtyard, making the theatre a highly suitable venue for productions of various sizes. More intimate productions have the option to close off the curtain to create a more private space for performances.

By breaking down the distinction between architecture and stage design, the design brings architecture out from its passive role in the theatre to becoming an active participant. At the same time, the theatre experience is challenged to become more engaging as the difference between the stage, the seating and the surrounding context is blurred by transforming theatre. The design brings architecture out from its role as a backdrop to becoming an active part of the performance on stage, allowing it to respond to each production and their unique attributes.

The flexibility offered by the architecture of the theatre allows an infinite possibility of adaptations to be created. The arrangement of the curtain openings allow the theatre inside to be converted into a variety of stage settings depending on the production. Whereas more traditional productions might benefit from a proscenium layout, the theatre can also be easily transformed into a black box, a thrust theatre, or even an arena setting. Opened discussions such as meet the artist events could also be held by adapting the theatre into a forum concept, while bilateral layouts lend itself well to runway performances.

The temporary nature of the pavilion dictates the shape with which the theatre takes. Using standardized steel posts commonly used in the construction of scaffolding, the structure is a simple ring of columns which create a form not unlike those of the traditional Greek theatre. These columns are fixed with runners which brace the structure against each other at a centre point. The skin, a waterproof canvas commonly found in tents, is then wrapped around the roof to create a watertight entity for performance within. The perimeter curtain of the theatre is constructed of the same canvas material, where a guide string system allows each individual panel to be controlled and adapted for each performance. The use of standardized components readily available on the building market also allows the building to be dismantled and all components to be recycled after the festival.

TEAM: Joey Yim, Kenneth Ip
TYPE: Theatre
PROGRAMME: Temporary theatre pavilion for various theatrical performances



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