Hristo Uzunov
UACEG - University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Sofia, Bulgaria

Project idea

The main purpose of the project THEATRE POPULAIRE IDEA(L) is to create a multifunctional cultural centre, which meets the artistic aspirations of the present and future generations. In other words, a place where artists can follow their inspiration, live and present their ideas, where the audience could immerse themselves into a world of art and gain a different perspective and emotion.
The complex consists of two buildings connected by an open space- bordered by a green area with trees that gives the feeling of a cultural oasis organically fitted within the neighbouring inhabited areas.
The exterior of the complex reminds of the modern architecture tendencies and at the same time, it is influenced by the fleetness and rhythm of the typical dances of Burkina Faso.
The interior is a graceful journey back in time. The culmination of the experience for the visitors is the entrance in the old amphitheatre, linking the future and the past, going in from the modern exterior into the ancient reminiscence of an amphitheatric hall.

Project description

The aim of the Théâtre IdéaL project is to address the requirements for the facility to have the following areas and zones:
• A WORK area consisting of a stage and backstage for performers, areas for technicians, an open-air terrace, areas for technical equipment, storage, sewing, transport and parking areas.
• A SHOW/PERFORMANCE area consisting of an auditorium, public access areas and conviviality areas as well as enough space for advertising and different type of events.
• A LABO area with a media room, educational and co-working space, music-recording studio, photo studio, video editing room and archive space.
The unoccupied open space between the two buildings, which also contains pavilions in local style surrounded by green areas and trees, could be used for open-air events.
The complex is designed as an open one but once a visitor enters the space, he gets the feeling of entering an oasis of culture and arts.

The main building has three floors and accommodates the following areas:

First floor:
• Main entrance for the audience for the amphitheatric auditorium, stage and multifunctional areas.
• Secondary entrance for the audience for the amphitheatric auditorium, stage and multifunctional areas.
• A car park for the audience with direct access from the parking to the building entrance areas.
• Direct access to the auditorium for people with reduced mobility capabilities.
• Access for trucks transporting technical and stage equipment adjacentto the stage area.
• A rest room for technical personnel and truck drivers.
• An elevator for equipment.
• Ticket offices right after the main and secondary entrances of the building.
• A guard room.
• A stage and dressing room for the actors.
• A technical cabin and storage room.
• A sewing workshop space with storage area near the actors’ dressing roomand the stage.
• А сestaurant for visitors with indoor and outdoor areas.
• A shopping area.
• Four zones with toilets for the visitors, actors and personnel on the first floor.
• Three staircases for visitors and three staircases for actors and personnel, leading to the next floors of the building.

Second floor:
The second floor is mainly intended for the actors, performers, technical and service personnel and is furnished with the respective equipment areas.
• Five staircases for visitors and a wide cloakroom.
• Ticket control areas.
• Eight staircases for actors and personnel.
• An elevator for technical and stage equipment.
• Construction and repairs area for the stage sets with sufficient storage zones and a room for technicians.
• A canteen for the personnel.
• Accommodation area for actors consisting of private individual studios with a sleeping and relaxation zone and en suite bathrooms for 20 actors.
• A meeting and dinning zone for the actors.
• A service room for facility maintenance.

Third floor:
The entrance to the auditorium for the audience is on the third floor.
The significant distance between the actual entrance to the auditorium from the main entrance of the building is intentional. It is designed in this way in order to give sufficient time and space for the visitors to take a kind of a slow journey and shake off the worries of the day, while going up into a world of art and culture.

The third floor accommodates the following areas:
• Two staircases for visitors.
• Entrance to the auditorium for the audience.
• VIP zone with designated toilets.
• A terrace for the audience.
• Three staircases for actors.
• Fun and relaxation zone for the actors with an adjacent terrace.
• Three zones with toilets.
• A restricted area with solar panels for autonomous electricity/power supply of the facility.
• A control centre for the solar panels.
• An elevator control room.
• Two staircases for personnel.

The secondary building has two floors and accommodates the following areas:

First floor:
• Five entrances to the building and one additional emergency exit. The “Hall of fame” is the compositional centre of the facility, which is located in the middle of the building and could be used for convivial and signage events. This area is designed for gallery and exhibitions purposes. It is a big, round-shaped space, common for the two floors of the building, with 12 skylights as an additional reference to Ancient Greece (A typical element for the Ancient Greek’s architecture were the sky wells- practically a holes in the ceiling)… as if the sky was inscribed in the building. It could be used as an event hall, gallery, museum or a place hosting photos and biographies of great persons from the history of Burkina Faso.
• Two wide educational spaces.
• Two dressing rooms for the users of the educational spaces.
• Co-working space with an archive zone.
• A photo studio.
• A video editing room.
• A restaurant.
• A guardroom. Five zones with toilets. Three staircases.

Second floor:
• Two wide educational spaces.
• A music-recording studio.
• A media office and a modular media room.
• A storage area for facility maintenance.
• Four zones with toilets.
• Three staircases.

The amphitheatre is located inside the main building in order to keep it safe from the elements and to set up a secure, clean and comfortable atmosphere for the audience. The ceiling above the audience is made of glass in order to retain the feeling of being into an uncovered theatre. Furthermore, the glazed ceiling improves the acoustics of the auditorium.
Between the two buildings, there is a free open space, which could be used for open-space concerts.
The shapes of the buildings are planned in a way that helps to reduce the heat inside them. The aerodynamic shapes of the roofs prevents noise disturbances from outside as well as support and improve the airing of the upper layer of the building – winds wrap the fluid and streamlined shape of the roof thus helping to reduce the temperature inside the building through convective heat transfer. The curvatures of the roof serve as a natural defence against sun radiation and heating (when the sun is at its highest position, the rays will fall over the roof at an angle that reduces the penetration of the sun radiation). The white colour of the building will additionally increase the radiation reflectivity.

Technical information

The materials needed for the execution of the project should be able to resist the tension, caused by the atmospheric influences and by the building’s own weight. This may increase the initial price, but will subsequently lead to smaller, expenses on maintenance, which will compensate for the higher initial costs.
The solar panels are undoubtedly a good investment regarding energy efficiency. In the region of Burkina Faso, they will yield more than 200 000 kWh/year, which compares to the electricity used by 20 average households in the UK.
The auditorium has natural acoustics, which contributes to the economy and makes for an organic and authentic experience. Inside the theatre to achieve this it is important to furnish the ceiling and the back wall (behind the audience) with a sound insulation material (e.g. wood).
The sidewalls are step-like, in order to increase the field of vision of the sideward audience (This will not affect the acoustics of the hall, because the opening angle of the auditorium is too big (>15°)).
The described design for THEATRE POPULAIRE IDEA(L) provides multiple functional areas for actors and an audience. Dividing the zones in two separate building provides better accommodation for different types of activities and events.
The exterior design of the buildings itself creates a secure and safe internal environment for the actors, personnel and visitors throughout the year, remaining independent of the elements thus extending and maximizing the usage of the facility by fulfilling the cultural life of Ouagadougou and the country.

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