Architectural forms that are built are generally perceived as static objects on a fixed site. While a facade may move, creating a more dynamic interaction with the surrounding area, the majority of the built form, its foundations, floor, walls etc. are static. Contrasting this idea of ‘staticness’ is one of mobility and flexibility. For theatres, the static proscenium and/or audience seating arrangement has been a constant with the multi-form theatre being one of the few exceptions to the prevailing norm. Multi-form theatres are able to adapt to the required stage- to-audience organisation required for a specific performance. Organisational logics such as thrust, arena, end stage, black box, studio, courtyard, opera house, and dance theatre should all be possible in the single performance space through a variety or augmentations and movements to the seating and stage configuration. For years technological requirements to facilitate simplistic flexibility have been fraught and acoustic issues have resulted in the multi-form theatre being classed as a sub-par theatrical space, this is now no longer the case (Holden, 2016).
The outcome of the theatre will be assessed on the layer experiences on stage, the variety of stage-to-audience arrangements, the processional sequencing of spaces experienced by the audience and the interior city of the back of house area.
Inherent within the typology of the multi-form theatre is an underlying reliance on technologies. Fly towers, retractable seating, hydraulic floor platforms, mobile seating platforms are the basic systems to facilitate the functioning of the multi-form theatre. Students will be challenged to explore how these existing technologies can be taken to their extreme and also augmented by other non-standard technologies to produce radically new theatrical environments. Technologies from disciplines such as transportation and manufacturing will provide the ‘ingredients’ for this augmentation. Functional requirements of the theatre: views, acoustics, ergonomics etc. must still be of critical importance in the production of these ‘extreme’ multi-form theatres (this forms the challenge of this studio).
The theatre will be sited on Bare Island, Botany Bay. This historic site has itself a layer history from its colonial military past to its modern day portrayal in cinema. Students will be asked to interpret, adapt, add and reconceive spaces in and surrounding the existing fortification. In addition to the military history of Bare Island, the industrial underbelly of Sydney is on show from the escarpment of the fortification. The relationship between the public / back of house areas of the theatre, to the heritage features of the fort and the surrounding context, will be used as a generative basis for programmatic arrangements and spatial outcomes for the studio.