(Badajoz, ES)
Consejería de Cultura y Turismo. Junta de Extremadura
2.673,7m² built area + 2.808,2m² landscaping
2005 to 2009
  • Contractor: Procondal S.A.
  • Quantity Surveyors: Carlos Rubio, Joaquín Escribano
  • Structural Engineering: José Pablo González
Aránzazu Montero, Jesús Isla, Carlos Brage, Lucía Fernández

The new Theater of Zafra pursues a smooth connection with the pedestrian center (evoking its concatenation of places through narrow doorways), linking to new areas and eventually expanding the view towards the horizon. The irregularity of the plot invited to occupy the site by dissolving the functional program to create a new 'envelope' with a scale close of that of the existing buildings, absorbing the disordered geometry and providing free paths with gentle slopes that allow full accessibility for visitors and restricted to vehicles. The loading and unloading of goods takes place through the large backstage door, so that the stage (in addition to offering a position that favors the direct loading and unloading) articulates interior and exterior, which allows leveraging the lighting equipment to perform informal shows towards the square.

Portuguese cobblestone pavements and terraced gardens delimit the perimeter of the plot, consisting of old buildings in two of which vernacular elements (masonry vaults and slate walls) were consolidated in order to preserve them for a future enlargement of the cultural activities. A similar continuity occurs between the flooring of the stage and the black linoleum in the stalls, where natural felts (which refer to the sheep that used to graze on the plot before construction started) line the interior walls. The cork sheets (natural, matte and gloss finished) that clad the rehearsal room abound in this translation of the local landscape material.

Beyond a mere contemplative affection, the building challenges the traditional role of spectators as passive ingredients, inviting them to achieve certain complicity with both visitors and passers-by, so they can get involved not only when a representation is taking place.

Several “architectonic devices” assist on this task. For instance, the stage can literally open to the city and its citizens, while the seats of the orchestra are colored pixels that, viewed from the stage when empty, compose the anamorphosis of an always-looking eye (which in the absence of spectators, during rehearsals or assemblies undertakes the task of 'scrutinizing'), surrounded by the natural felt finished walls of the main space. Recycled satellite dishes developed into lamps, peepholes or mirrors with masks help creating a playful yet intriguing atmosphere.