How can a contemporary theatre address the pluralism that is inherent in urban life?
The city is read as a collection distinct societies and our civic spaces as the sites of encounter between them. In an internationally accessible world, the diversity of these societies is increasing. Inherently, with greater disparity comes conflicting ideas, beliefs and values. A civic space must open for inhabitation by anyone, embracing and highlighting our differences, in pursuit of ultimately becoming a place where our differences can gather.
The proposal is for a contemporary theatre in Glasgow, that embodies the plurality of society in its programme, form and tectonic design. The site is in Broomielaw, central Glasgow, facing onto the River Clyde and attached to the Central Station. The programme is an amalgamation of the community centre and the civic theatre typology. Traditionally theatre was both a high and low class medium. In some working class communities the theatre presented the opportunity for open discussion by highlighting the social challenges of the time. The proposal is charged through the dynamic relationship between interactive performance and the vibrant inhabitation of the community centre. The programme is separated into three performance spaces: the civic theatre (for large scale formal performance and lectures), pedagogical theatre (for fringe and forum interactive performance), and debate chamber (for open public discussion). The theatre programme is balanced by informal community spaces for public and private meeting. The two programmes are overlapped and compressed in one building; providing the opportunity for conflictual exchange.
The proposal creates a series of distinct enclosures that each contain a programmatic component. These autonomous forms are clustered around a central public square, which opens out to the concourse of Glasgow's central station. An internal skylit atrium divides the plan, creating a threshold between community centre and theatre. The public square doubles as the debate chamber, which enables the public flowing through to be at once spectators and actors in the performance. This route becomes a new gateway into the city, and the site of conflict between the public and the community. The civic and pedagogical theaters open out onto the debate chamber, creating a dynamic spatial relationship between the three performance spaces. Through stepped levels and expansive double height openings, the distinct facades of each space can be opened out, creating the effect of the backdrop to a town square.
Glasgow City Centre
Performance on the Concourse
Tectonically, the building acts as a city, with each space functioning as an independent object with a distinct language. Brick is utilised to create a solid enclosure, inside of which are nested the three performance spaces, which are constructed from lightweight LVL frames. Larch softwood is used to line the masonry shell, to soften the interaction at a human scale. Each distinct space is separated by a void of natural light, to heighten the juxtaposition between tectonic languages. This creates the impression that you are passing between a city of spaces within the city.
Structural Bay - Hollow masonry columns are utilised to support the ribbed concrete deck floor, and provide natural ventilation from the basement hypocaust, and allow the vertical distribution of servicing.