The Theatre’s project is located in Vícar, a typical colonial settlement of the Campo de Dalias in Almería occupied in the 60’s by the colons of the Alpujarars. A flat landscape at the foot of the Sierra de Gádor, looking like a peculiar extension of plastic greenhouses, an artificial sea which confuses its borders with the real one.
The plot is a vacuum located between buildings for public use: the College, the City Hall, the Centre for Health and the food market. The urban space of which it takes part is the result of the free implantation of each building on the plan, deriving in a space without form, dispersed, almost residual. The establishment of a new, kinder order, under the conditions of this inhospitable site, has been one of the basic intentions of the project.
So, as the generous dimensions of the plot, we tried to obtain an organisation which could locate with logic the own uses of the Theatre generating public spaces for the citizenship; an occupation that will permit the versatility of uses, allowing a flexible use of spaces, rehearsal rooms, patios, exhibition foyer and square, café-tables etc.
More than an exempt construction, as the contiguous, it is an urban place where the public space penetrates, integrates and complements the theatre. As a result of the characteristics of the building and the special climatic conditions of the area we paid special attention to the creation of transition spaces between exterior and interior, spaces located between and under the building, which give the opportunity to have meetings.
The ensemble lies on a high basement, in the classic manner, with the intention of placing it on a higher level to underline its uniqueness and reduce, if possible, the excavation for the semi-cellar. The transition between heights has been resolved through a system of ramps and large stairways.
The public accesses are situated under the great portico of the NE façade, from the front square: a place that allows the necessary distancing from the surrounding buildings and the accumulation of people during show times; a fore free space advisable in any public building, an own representative space which optimizes the unique qualities of a construction. Zones of light and shadow, paved or gardened, where it is possible to meet or transit during the day and, crossing them, access to the indoor and rear spaces and to the multipurpose area. Beside the atrium there are the ticket offices.
We gave priority to the crossed views, always offering a variety of point of view. The vehicles ramp is situated in the SE extreme, in the lowest point of the plot.
On this side, the loading area also allows to access to the backstage and to the scene. Together with this, towards the Calle Omero the access restricted to the staff leads, after crossing a first patio, to another one, hidden from the outside that organizes and distributes all semi-public or private functions of the theatre: the rehearsal rooms, the dressing rooms, the administration…
The foyer, asymmetrical due to the organization of the theatre, is lodged under the cantilever of the stands and invites the viewer to remain, staring at the large orange volume of the room. One jealousy qualifies the light and the relationship with the square in its front.
On the sides, stairs, toilets and a café, which is conceived as a place with the possibility to be independent of the theatre. Space sequences and visual relationships are key elements in its articulation.
We also tried to reduce the galleries, as far as possible, posing broader and better lighted spaces to access to the hall.
The theatre has the capacity for four hundred spectators. We proposed continuous stands (with variable slope), excellently considered for visibility reasons and for their acoustic behaviour due to their feature to avoid the deaf areas which are generated in amphitheatres and sections of similar rooms. Above them and around the perimeter, there are a technical gallery and the cabin of projection and control.
Also the scenic box, as a “factory” of imagination, needs to be well organised; this fact implicates concrete dimensions of its elements and a particular set up that should not be ignored.
The structure of screen-walls and slabs of reinforced concrete proposes itself as a great sheet that bends in all directions giving form to the built spaces. Above it and parallel to it we put another one, finer, lighter and made of copper. We dedicated a special care to control the size of the pieces, the orientation, the texture, the brightness and the oxidation.
Jointly to natural copper we also used two alloys. A material that changes with light and with the passing of time giving an own character to the building. At dawn the copper colours are colder; with the passage of the day the shadows cut with force on its surface and the reflexes are very powerful, whereas at dusk they turn into warm and reddish colours, varying again during the night towards the green-blue.
The noble use of this material strengthens even more the representativeness of the building in a site like this, where the collective nature is reflected in its institutions.
The Vícar Theatre, with its essential, clean and geometrical forms, is a good example of how the language of contemporary architecture can combine with the criterions of the bioclimatic planning.
The choice to use an external covering of copper, for the wrapping of the theatre, comes towards the criterions of sustainable development. The copper and his alloys result totally recyclable without having an alteration of their chemical-physical original characteristics; this implies a notable energetic saving and a reduction of the polluting charges at the level of the cycles of extraction and production of the raw material. The long duration and the recyclability also make the copper a material with a closed cycle of life with a low environmental impact, which doesn’t generate wastes to accumulate and dispose in the dumps.
The wrapping of the theatre offers a good performance from the energetic point of view. The covering copper elements and the metallic support structure constitute an inner tube (thickness 5 centimetres) between the external side and the wall made of reinforced concrete, with a consequent increase of the insulate power of the panels of rock wool (thickness from 3 to 5 centimetres) arranged on the internal side. The values of trasmittance ( U = 0,52 W/m2K) are lower than those which are expected by the new Codigo Tecnico de Edificaciόn for the climatic zone of the municipality of Vicar ( Ulim = 0,94 W/m2K).
To avoid overheating in the internal environments caused by the elevated solar irradiation, the big glazed windows have been protected with suitable shielding systems, as the one of the main façade constituted by fixed lamellas realized with a sheet network of copper, vertically developed up to the level of the cover.
It was also designed the natural ventilation of the building, by placing some aspiration grids and some fixtures with adjustable openings, which allow the input of fresh air by the interiors patios, and some
skylights on the roof which can be opened and let the bad air exit.
Honorific Mention in the “L Exposición de Otoño”. Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Saint Isabel of Hungry. Seville, Spain, 2001.
Architectural Design Award and Award for Innovation given by The Copper In Architecture Association. XIII Edition, London, United Kingdom, 2007.
TECU Architecture Award 2007, Public Buildings category given by KME Germany AG. Essen, Germany, 2007.
DEDALO MINOSSE International Prize’s Mention for building commissioners.
Vicenza, Italy, 2008.
INTERNATIONAL ARCHITECTURE AWARDS 2008. Europe and USA expositions. Chicago, USA, 2008.
Work selected by CSCAE (Superior Council of Spanish Architecture Associations) to participate in the exposition presented by Spain in parallel to the Sustainable Building 2008 World Conference (SB08). Technical Seminary organized by the Spanish Institute of Foreign Commerce (ICEX). Melbourne, Australia, 2008.
ARCO 2006-2007 Prize. Finalist. Prize given by the Official Architects Association of Almería. Almería, Spain, 2008.
Premios SICE!2008. Sustainability, Innovation, Quality in Construction. Prize for the use of copper in construction. CSCAE, Madrid, Spain.
SICE!2008. Prize for Sustainability, Innovation, Quality in Construction. Mention. CSCAE, Madrid, Spain.
ARCHI-BAU Awards 2009. Organized by http://Archi-Europe.com in collaboration with BAU (Munich Construction Fair). First Prize in Façades category. Munich, Germany.
ARCHITECTS: SIMONE SOLINAS, GABRIEL VERD, NICOLÁS CARBAJAL