This urban architecture monument is avowedly about multiple meanings and activities. Designed by MDU Architetti, this new multi-purpose theatre in Montalto di Castro (Viterbo province) offers varying ways of experiencing the "magic of the theatre ", even broadening this concept to the performing arts and art gatherings. It will also provide the dominant architectural force as part of an urban regeneration plan for an old industrial site. The architects have drawn inspiration from the local area, a placed filled with interesting polarities that extend across the barriers of time. For example, at the nearby Vulci archaeology site, one finds Etruscan history in the remnants of the tuff base of the Great Temple, but one can also see the imposing power station, which is very much from the modern age. The allusion to the past offers a way to bring together the numerous different types of productions planned for the theatre's playbill, while the actual built structure poses some far-reaching questions about the performance provided by architecture in an area. In other words, this urban monument manifests itself in a way that combines clearly identifiable values through form, proportions, cost-effectiveness and functionality. The building stands on a base that also acts like a piazza, encouraging people to gather and wander around this monument, sharing in its beauty. The volume has a clear longitudinal axis that creates both the physical and visual axis for the internal spaces, rendering the borders transparent. This means one can practically see-through the theatre, although curtains are drawn for performances to enclose the space. The use of glass - in varying sizes - on both the front entrance and the rear façade manages to draw the exterior into the theatre. The extended base, the rear zone dotted with trees - a highly significant backdrop - and the abandoned surrounding area converge at the heart of theatre, pairing inside with outside. The interior is characterised by uninterrupted flow. The lobby - with a concrete floor - has all the necessary structures, including a ticket office, toilets, offices and a small bar. The lobby and the 400-seater hall are only separated by the light that filters in through a glass section that cuts into the main volume of the theatre. It is here that, when needed, the curtains can be drawn to allow the action to get underway. From the outside, the structure picks up on the idea of gradual concentration towards the fluid interior, where both the material and visual lines flow dynamically towards the stage and the transparent backdrop of the northern wall, thus combining focal points and visual dispersion. The entrance façade - another feature that guides one in a specific direction - is clearly marked by a diagonal side wall and the prominent overhanging celling. The effect is to create both a space for waiting and a place for observing the interior, almost making an external lobby that functions as an ante-chamber for the theatre itself. The elongated size and longitudinal shape of the volume are highlighted by the horizontal bands of exposed concrete visible in the body of the building, effectively forming rough material stripes in different hues. The glazed interruption and the breaks in the western side for the tall, slender windows that provide light for the internal offices are a variation that disrupts the continuity of the exposed cement wall. On the northern side, the stage tower rises imposingly over the body of the building. Alveolar polycarbonate is used to clad the concrete structures, giving the stage tower an ever changing appearance. In the day, it seems almost to fade into the sky, while at night, when the artificial lights are turned on, it comes alive, providing a landmark for the area.
Location: Montalto di Castro, Viterbo
Client: Comune di Montalto di Castro
Gross Floor Area: 1220 m2
Cost of Construction: 2.400.000 Euro
Architects: MDU architetti – Alessandro Corradini, Valerio Barberis, Marcello Marchesini, Cristiano Cosi
Collaborators: Nicola Becagli, Michele Fiesoli
Works Management: Alessandro Corradini
Security Management for Design and Construction Phases: Bettina Gori Contractor: Mar.Edil.
Structural: Alberto Antonelli, Iacopo Ceramelli
Mechanical and Electrical Installations: Federico Boragine
Acoustics: Gianluca Zoppi
Stage Design: Roberto Cosi
Costing: Antonio Silvestri
Aluminium Window Frames: Metra
Photo by: © Pietro Savorelli
MDU architetti - Misuratori Differenziale Urbano (Urban Differential Measurers) - is an architecture practice founded in 2001 in Prato (Italy) by Valerio Barberis (1971), Alessandro Corradini (1964) and Marcello Marchesini (1970), later joined by Cristiano Cosi (1974).
The studio’s activities range from urban planning to interior design, often achieving pure intellectual meditation through theoretical projects developed for architecture exhibitions and workshops. The practice’s building projects include: Poolhouse Fioravanti in Prato, RRS & Feng Lin Showroom in Shanghai, EsseBi Showroom in Pistoia, the art gallery dedicated to the work of the sculptor Giuliano Vangi in Florence, the transformation of a series of old industrial building into apartments and lofts in Prato, the Municipal Library of Greve in Chianti (Florence) and the Municipal Theatre of Montalto di Castro (Rome). Projects under construction comprise: the Theatre and Mediateque of Acri (Cosenza), the Castelnuovo Social Club in Prato, the “Metropolitan” commercial-residential centre in Leghorn and the Italian Trade Centre in Quanjiao, Nanjing (China). Its ongoing projects include: the Masterplan for the renovation of the South-East sector of Lucca town centre, the Church of the Visitation and the Headquarters for the CGF company, both in Prato.