Design by numbers

Thursday 31 Mar 2011

Old market square stage provides entertainment throughout the year

Located in Winnipeg, Canada, The Cube is an open-air performance venue set against the backdrop of historic warehouses in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The design commission, gained through an invited competition, recognised that the stage typically functions as such during a very limited season and questioned what opportunities the venue could provide during the rest of the year.

In its final rendition the stage is articulated as a multi-functional environment that shifts from a vibrant performance space to an ephemeral, glowing, interactive pavilion and focal point. The outer shell of the stage is a dynamic membrane composed of diamond extrusions strung together to form a flexible curtain that draws back to reveal the stage and structure within.

The retracted skin in turn becomes a draped and undulating ceiling landscape, providing a backdrop for performances and allowing adjustments to the stage acoustics. When closed, the angled diamond pieces capture and refract light or images to their outer surface, creating a unique pixel matrix.

Programmable lighting shines onto the pixelated skin offering a canvas for interactive displays - seasonally programmed and available for active engagements by local artists. The stage in its closed position also accommodates small gatherings and exhibitions inside. In its final installation, the screen is able to hang vertically, sealing off the 28’ x 28’ cube. When lifted, the screen folds back in a gentle curve, revealing the performance space below and forming an acoustical backdrop.

When closed, the polished aluminium extrusions form a light reflecting surface that is able to interact with floor lights and projectors to create dynamic, programmable light displays. By questioning the year-round relevance of the stage programme, the team were motivated to develop a constituent part of the programme (security, screen, canopy) into a new project feature. The skin thereby transcends its role as shell and takes on a new role of emblem.

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