Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Municipal Theater in Seville, Spain by Javier Terrados Architecture Studio
February 5th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Javier Terrados Architecture Studio
The always uncertain destiny of Andalusian industry has provided the old Hytasa company installations at Arahal with an honorable continuity in time. This large industrial enclave, triangle-shaped and next to the railway station, will be transformed into a civic citadel that will hold several cultural and sport facilities.
The theatre occupies the head of the ensemble, which will also include the refurbishment of two large cotton warehouses, and the building of a public square next to the theatre. Lepanto Avenue, at the east of the block, was only a solitary walk that connected the city with the railway. It is now intended to become a shaded boulevard that will give access to the theatre (the first building to be built), to a gymnasium and to an indoor swimming pool, these last two ones inside the refurbished warehouses.
The project for the theatre was the result of a national competition. In our proposal, the building is intended to give shelter to the triangular plaza that will relate this area to the city central quarter. The stage box of the new building, overscaled and designed as a tower, will be the town’s next urban landmark, both during day and night time.
Buildings designed to house theatres use to be defined by a duality between the vestibule and the scenic hall. Extroversion vs. Introversion.Relation with the city vs. relation with the imagination. In this building these two types of space are contained in two elongated prism that are laid out perpendicularly so that they can shape the triangular plaza. The lobby is designed as the extension of the urban space, visually open to it, though protected by its wide cantilevered porch.
To make this plaza possible it is necessary to solve the demanding topography of the plot. Our proposal takes advantage of the slope in order to arrange the complexity of activities of the theatre in a simple way. Three levels are defined, each one of them corresponding with a different type of use.
The public and the plaza. This is the upper level, on which the plaza, the access porch, the lobby, the bar, the wardrobe, the public toilets and the main entry to the scenic hall are laid.
Actors and staff’s level. It is the intermediate one and it occupies a linear band at the northern and western façades. It houses the offices, the dressing rooms and a loading-unloading access that is directly connected to the scene.
Mechanical equipment, storage and service access. This is the lower level, that can be accessed from the lower point of the plot, at its northwest end, where the service entry for the staff is located.
The lobby has been designed as a multipurpose hall, capable to house exhibitions and other events. The cafeteria, the wardrobe and the public toilets are contained inside a wooden linear detached prism, conceived as a piece of furniture that extends outside the building at its southern end to shelter the box office.
The design of the scenic hall takes advantage of the plot’s topography. The rows of seats are arranged along a one-story slope that provides a very good visibility for the theater’s 425 spectators. There are three entrances, two of them on top of the hall and other one, more ceremonial and accessed by means of a wide stairway, at its bottom, right by the scene. The walls and ceiling are cladded with oak boards, so that the hall appears as a simple wooden box, only altered by the acoustic inflection of the ceiling and by the built-in side gallery.
The volumetric concept of the whole building proposes an abstract envelope by means of a simple gesture: a single white folded wall is wrapped around the lobby, the hall and the scenic tower. This way the building acquires a neat public scale, related with the simple volumes of the warehouses behind.
The material palette of the external appearance comprises the white stucco for the folded wall and the glass and aluminum panes with different degrees of transparency for the rest of the envelope. Inside, the oak boards of the lobby box relates to the “music box” of the hall, cladded with a similar type of boards. Granite floors and polished stucco walls complete the interior main cladding. A special effort has been made to integrate the mechanical equipment in the building’s architecture. Air conditioning, fire protection and ventilation are almost invisible both inside and outside.
Given that a great deal of the theatre’s activities will happen at night, the building’s artificial lighting is a notable design issue. The southern limit of the auditorium, which builds main façade of the plaza, has a external layer made of aluminum structural vertical louvers and translucent glass panes. It is intended to be the main urban attraction for night performances, easily visible when approaching from the town’s center. The lobby is completely open to the public space and its pendant spherical lights give it the atmosphere of an open-air ballroom.