Bío-Bío Regional Theater
Gabriela Medrano, B&B Ingeniería Estructural Ltda., Castro Rojas ingenieros y arquitectos, Temav, Antonia Peón Veiga
Iwan Baan, Hisao Suzuki, Cristóbal Palma, Gonzalo Puga
Our project for the Bío-Bío Regional Theater is the possible skeleton of a wrapped theater. Inside, the spectator will move through a special reticule that stupidly appears to be measuring each corner. In the main body of the theater this path loses saturation and gives the air needed for the representation, a black air, a darkness with misty edges. All this paraphernalia around the rooms -- understood as open fields in the midst of this structural grid with a 3.90 m edge -- is simply a scaffold, like the back of a backdrop, the inferior support structure that is normally hidden and unseen. Thus, the spectator doesn't have to wait until she/he has crossed the vestibule and entered the darkness of the main hall to open up the theater, the mystery appears even before entering. The visitor has only to see the cloth that falls over the building, veiling it, then to feel or "sense", as Kantor says, that something is hidden inside, or at least to believe for a moment that moving around inside it will be an experimental process or one that is at least surprising. The actor, on the other hand, has access to a flexible air.
The Bío-Bío Regional Theater does not have deep foundations, even though it is located just a short distance from the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake that struck with an intensity of 8.8 on the Richter Scale. The entire building is constructed on compacted sand on a 30 cm thick concrete slab, with 50 cm thick reinforcement beams around the perimeter. The diagonal of the ground floor forms, with the first floor and foundation slab, a rigid surface diaphragm, as if the building were drifting and did not want to leave tracks. This strange sensation, together with its outer wrapping of translucent PTFE makes it in some respects a distant cousin to a circus tent. Seeing a structural cross section of the theater or its foundation plans is a thing of joy.
The building replaces the old Concepcion Theater destroyed during the 1960 earthquake. It was an infrastructure fondly missed, given the importance of performing arts for the city. It took more than 50 years to accomplish the construction of a new theater, and it quickly became the most visited in the country.
The halls acquire contemporary dimensions, and with some basic mechanical instruments, the optimum technical qualities for the multiple uses of the space are achieved.