With the aim of providing the city of Concepción with an adequate infrastructure to carry out various cultural activities in the Biobío Region, which to date could not be carried out due to the lack of space and equipment, in 2011 the National Council of Culture and the Arts called for a public tender for the construction of the Regional Theater of Biobío building (TRBB).
The winning proposal, designed by the architects Smiljan Radic, Eduardo Castillo and Gabriela Medrano, suggested an “urban lamp”: through a play of light and shadows caused by an exterior mantle, he sought that the audience felt the mystery of the theater even before to enter the premises.
For this, the team of architects designed a structural grid of reinforced concrete, surrounded by a large scaffolding or skeleton, which in turn is covered by a large membrane that generates a play of light and shadow between its interior and exterior.
This structural grid of reinforced concrete, with modules of 3.9 x 3.9 meters located within a volume of 9,650 m², organizes and contains all the scenic programs, rooms and spaces of the regional theater, which are spread over six floors .
According to Gabriela Medrano, one of the architects of the project, the commission of the Council of Culture and Arts was to make a traditional theater, with a conservative main hall with capacity for more than a thousand people and a smaller one for 250. It also had to include rehearsal rooms for the symphony orchestra and workshops to build the necessary infrastructure or scenography that could be used in the different shows.
However, explains Gabriela Medrano, “it was thought that the Chamber Room was a flexible place -equipped with retractable bleachers- that could be adapted to different types of requirements. We also talked with the MOP so that the space destined for the workshops would be transformed into multipurpose rooms, since at present it is very difficult for the set design to be built in the same theaters. Most companies today travel with their own staging. Those two were the only variations we made to the original order, “he says. As a result, the theater now has two multipurpose rooms that were not initially contemplated, which can be accessed through the street level, but in a separate entrance.
Today, with the exception of some minor modifications to what is required, the building has two spaces for shows of different nature. The main hall has a capacity for 1,200 spectators, distributed in low, high stalls and three boxes. Its 831 m² stage (29.7 meters wide with shoulders included by 28 meters deep), plus the space for the orchestra pit, have stage support from a main control room. From there you can manage the lighting and sound equipment mounted on the three technical bridges, behind the lateral folding panels or on the stage in a Tramex technical floor. At the same time, this room is fully equipped with acoustic panels, made with different textures to avoid distortions of sound and, thus, to reach all viewers in an optimal way.
The second is the Chamber Room. This large volume, located on the fourth floor, has retractable seats for 250 spectators: they are arranged on each side of the room, with the stage at the center of these two blocks. It also has a Tensogrid technical floor over the whole room, a kind of elastic mesh that allows to support with motorization and lighting all the activities that take place there. Like the main hall, this space has interior panels and panels that condition it for optimal acoustic performance.
In the southern part of the building are located the offices, the group and individual dressing rooms, a rehearsal room for the symphony orchestra on the fifth floor and another two in the sixth. On the first floor of access are the ticket office, the cloakroom and a store. This space is surrounded by stairs that lead to the second floor, where the cafeteria and the entrance to the main room are. From this large space or hall you can see the Chamber Room floating (covered in choapino), the light installation of Ivan Navarro, composed of more than a hundred lights, and the two panoramic elevators.
The main hall has a capacity for 1,200 spectators, distributed in low, high stalls and three boxes. To it is added a Chamber Room located on the fourth floor, which has retractable seats for 250 people.
With the idea of creating a building that was their “own publicity”, the team led by Radic elaborated a proposal that he described as a great “urban lamp”. It seeks that, when an event is happening inside, the building is turned on and everyone around knows that something is taking place. For Gabriela Medrano, that was one of the main proposals of the project. Another was to generate an interior air volume, made up of a common space that changes during the day.
Leaving free areas of double or triple height, including vertical and perimeter circulation, the team of architects designed a large area or central hall, thought as the meeting place of the attendees prior to some function, as occurs in the great European theaters.
Due to the north-south orientation of the building, the interior light of this space changes depending on the position of the sun during the different hours of the day, achieving a play of lights. In the morning you can see a side that is very yellow and another more neutral, and in the afternoon one of the faces gets more orange and the other becomes something light blue. At night, instead, let the entire structure of the building look and become this lamp that was always thought. “To live this space inside, to discover all this air and how the sunlight changes the place, to give different readings to the same place,” says Medrano. In large part, this phenomenon is due to a perimeter membrane made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which surrounds the mega structure and makes it look like a lamp, generating a set of lights and shadows that are inverted day and night.
According to Julián Corbett, regional director of Architecture of the Ministry of Public Works, Biobío Region, this has been one of the most challenging projects that he has had to manage, due to his attachment to a purist and minimalist architecture. “The large amount of exposed concrete, the massive use of wood, glass and the large membrane are not usual elements in this type of project, in which stuccos, paintings, moldings and coatings allow to correct deformations of the thick work. In the case of the TRBB are not present, forcing to be precise and rigorous since the installation of the wall that runs through the entire structure of the building, “he explains.
Likewise, the assembly of the PTFE membrane was a challenge and forced us to investigate the material, the installation procedure, its physical characteristics and how complex its assembly is with the permanent winds from the edge of the river. “Because Smiljan had previously worked with this type of membrane, we were able to give the client all the technical specifications of the exact material we needed for the work,” explains the architect. An American specialist delivered the necessary information so that the project engineer could calculate the charges and everything related to them.
For Francisca Peró, executive director of the Biobío Regional Theater, the technical aspects, fundamentally the size of the stage and the height of it, are some of the main attributes of the venue, since they allow presenting large format shows, comparable only to what It can happen at the Municipal Theater of Santiago. For this, work is being done to establish a permanent cultural offer, both in paid and free activities. All this, says Peró, will imply greater tourist potential, the development of a new cultural industry and the creation of new meeting spaces for the community of Concepción and the Biobío Region. For his part, Julian Corbett points out the importance of this initiative for the new generations. “I think that this type of project allows enriching the cultural life of people, positioning these works as emblems of their territory,” he concludes.
Name : Regional Biobío Theater.
Total investment : $ 21,140 million.
Architects : Smiljan Radic, Eduardo Castillo, Gabriela Medrano.
Technical Inspection : Architecture Department of the MOP, Biobío Region.
Location : Concepción, Chile.
Constructed area : 9,650 m².
Year of project and execution : 2011-2017.
Construction company : Echeverría Izquierdo SA
Structural engineering : B. and B. Ingeniería Estructural Ltda.
ON THE RIVER SHORE
Located on the north bank of the Biobío River, between the Llacolén and Chacabuco bridges and next to the Memorial to the victims of 27F, the location of the recently inaugurated Regional Theater of Biobío (TRBB) is not accidental. It is due to an ancient longing of the inhabitants of the city of Concepción.
Several initiatives known as the Pencopolitano Theater proposed the construction of a building on the north bank of the Biobío River. But after years of waiting, the project, which was to become the largest cultural venue in the region, was stopped due to lack of funding and coordination. Later on, and with the start of the Regional Theater Plan promoted by the previous administration of President Piñera, the idea of installing this theater on the edge of the river and consolidating an unfinished urban space, in what is known as the auction of the Bicentennial axis. But that idea did not develop either.
Years later, in a joint effort between the Council of Culture and the Arts and the Regional Government, the foundations were laid for an international competition that would allow the construction of the new Biobío Regional Theater. 28 proposals were presented, among which the project was presented as a winner, presenting the architects Smiljan Radic, Eduardo Castillo and Gabriela Medrano.
The Architecture Department of the Ministry of Public Works acted as Technical Unit in the design stage and as a counterpart of the design team of Smiljan Radic, advised by the Center for Research in Construction Technologies of the University of Biobío (CITEC UBB), who also contributed with corrective observations for the architectural design and all its specialties.