The Centre for Scenic Arts, designed by José Morales, Sara de Giles and Juan G. Mariscal at Níjar in Andalusia, is set in an urban and natural landscape with a pronounced character of its own. The daunting desert backdrop, the horizon line and various neighbourhood features influenced and suggested certain design choices. The Centre is devoted to theatrical expression and theatre in the broadest sense. It stands in a free plot once terraced with allotments, a place defined by its soft colour tones. The complex is made up of two units, starkly simple in outline, transforming the landscape and creating an interplay of architecture and natural feature picked up in the volumes themselves. One example of this is the shade-casting structure affording protection from the Almería sun. The site wraps round the bottom of the complex, anchoring it to various levels of terracing and unifying the whole. From this levelled base the architecture soars up in two separate bodies turned to face the main thoroughfare. The outer shell is designed as one continuous system linking curtain walls and roofs by using the same cladding in pierced stretched aluminium sheeting. The supporting structure is a light metal shell. The shape and consistency of the cladding sheets gives a uniform perception of the whole complex and a sense of great lightness to the compact clear-cut architectural volumes, while the technical purpose is to filter the glare and give varying daylight effects inside the Centre. The interior is conceived as a continuous empty space filling with glass-clad features in the form of ‘colour boxes’. The design also links firmly to the outer landscape by crosswise ‘cuts’ dividing up the volumes and giving a new balance to the interplay of full and empty. The brightly-coloured ‘boxes’ produce a markedly dynamic effect when glimpsed from the outside as well. Under the protecting outer sheath goings-on inside are visible, especially by night through the glass walls that slice across – wide apertures called ‘mouths’ by the architects. These lend the building identity and ‘capture’ the landscape. The jutting overhang creates a covered courtyard outside, a protected area extending and highlighting the interior layout. The plinth-like base houses dressing and changing rooms, as well as plant rooms, while the two volumes serve separate functions: on the one side a cinema, theatre or ballroom; on the other, rehearsal rooms, laboratories and an exhibition hall.
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