TEAM: Stephen Baron, Sorayos Chuenchomphu, Deane Madsen
ADVISOR: Craig Hodgetts (Hodgetts + Fung, FAIA)
BRIEF: Competition to design an experiential performance space inside the existing structure of St. Anna's Church, Prague
We entered this competition thrilled by the prospect of designing a theatrical performance space under the guidance of renowned architect Craig Hodgetts, whose firm's own work in such areas has been widely lauded. The competition called for a new design within a historic site, which was an interesting and welcome challenge given the site's constraints.
The church currently accommodates various gallery exhibitions and performances, but the space not utilized to its full advantage, as the mezzanine level offers poor sight lines, and the mezzanine itself blocks off light penetration to the ground level at all but one end of the church.
Our approach was thus to reverse the orientation of the program within the space, building up auditorium seating to face the direction opposite its current deployment. We elected to house the theatre's entry at the east end of the church by the nearest thoroughfare, and we placed the loading dock and freight elevators at the west end, where the church faces a service alley. The slope of the seating area provides a cavernous space beneath it, showing off the original structure's full height. This space is flexible enough to house pre-show cocktails, post-show receptions, and numerous other events. Beneath the stage are actors' green rooms, and above it we added an opaque glass fly tower to allow for fluid vertical set movement. We envision our fly tower as a light box that casts beacons of performance-inspired light into the surrounding city, to celebrate the artistic expression within while extending it outward as well.