New centre for performance arts provides a positive outlook for Soweto Community
The brief for the Soweto theatre was to create a public performing arts centre that the community of Soweto, South Africa would feel invited to use, enjoy and take ownership of. The concept of the building has evolved the existing typical theatre typology; the monolithic, impenetrable, secretive-mass with one, almost reluctant, public-gesture (the front door) has now become an open, legible and inviting space. All of the inner workings of the theatre are expressed outwards, beguiling and enticing its community in.
All of the buildings services are placed into the steel clad blinker walls allowing each performance venue to be expressed as a pure, identifiable form from inside and outside the building. The centre is comprised of three performance venues (90, 180 and 430 seats respectively) that can accommodate both smaller, local productions as well as house larger, international shows that require specialist facilities like a fly tower or an orchestra pit.
The colourful, ceramic tile cladding to the performance boxes was chosen to be visible from both inside and outside of the theatre, and the individual colours (red, yellow and blue) give each venue its own identity. 200,000 ceramic tiles adorn the walls of the performance boxes, each tile laid individually by tradesmen from the local community.
The choice to position the building in a public park along a busy pedestrian route, used my many members of the community for their daily commute, further integrates the community and the building physically. The outdoor foyer, below the tensile structure, is a public gesture that is always open as a community meeting point.