The theater is a symbol of the creative nature of a city. Performers, musicians and other artists can find in it a place to collaborate. The design intention is to create something new yet familiar for the people of Ouagadougou and to give the Theater Populaire a sense of formality without compromising its essence. To achieve this, most of the existing buildings are conserved and the new areas are simplified. Yet the project establishes a clear vocabulary for the new areas and is left open for future additions, if they were to be required. This proposal is one of slow and thoughtful renewal rather than one of heedless expansion.
The tower, from the old cathedrals to the new skyscrapers, acts as markers within the city. Therefore, some of the requested areas are stacked to form a small tower behind the stage, the heart of the theater. This architectural symbol heightens the presence of the stage within the complex as well as the importance of the complex within the city.
The distance between the CDC’s buildings to the south and the theater to the north makes it difficult for the two to have a relationship. To balance this, all of the new additions are located to the north near the theater entrance. A sculpture garden is also created to the southwest of the theater by planting new trees and commissioning sculptures to local artists. The sculpture garden acts as an open air corridor that joins the north and south sections of the complex.
The new areas are distributed in three buildings which relate to the theater each in a different way. A wall-like structure delimitates each side of the theater and can also be used to set up technical equipment if needed. The back of the theater is transformed into a series of terraces which become an informal, “theater-like” public space.
The materials recall the existing theater structure as well as the local architecture. They are left exposed to gain character with age. A simple concrete construction is the structural basis of the project. Instead of walls, permeable wooden panels enclose the different spaces. The wooden panels allow air and light in yet clearly delimitate each area. Each panel can be further opened up to make a completely open space.