Designed in its current shape in the mid-80’s by architects Lina Bo Bardi and Edson Elito, Teatro Oficina is an icon of Brazilian’s cultural production, being an environment of vanguards, a place for experimentation in scenic arts, dance, music, collective performances, architecture and urban appropriation.
The new project by Gema Arquitetura is a landmark in Teatro Oficina’s history, as it is the first time in 60 years the theatre is subjected to a full renovation plan. It preserves the essence of the original programme as well as introduces elements of contemporary architecture, to accommodate artists’ and public demands, mainly regarding circulation and supporting services.
Gema’s refurbishment project creates a new translucent volume at the rear of the building, aligned with the existing floors, with materiality opposed to and disconnected from the existing brick façades. Beyond the glass cube, the new (fourth) floor provides a living area shared by actors and public, a deck with a garden and outdoors shower area, achieved by flattening a previously pitched roof. With the new deck, the inferior floor is significantly optimized, with higher ceiling, increased useable area, and improved natural lighting and ventilation. The third floor also gets a new ribbon window, above the famous “janelão” (big window) but aligned with the zenith roof – both of which remain unaltered.
A new lift installed at the rear of the theatre reaches all floors, existing and created. Two metallic water tanks are exposed above the lift shaft, on the fifth floor, which also functions as an observation deck.
The public toilets, unisex, are also renovated and adapted to universal accessibility. All electrical cabling, scenic lighting, audio, video, data, hydraulic and fire safety infrastructures are renovated. All galleries and bleacher-like structures are maintained, though flooring and acoustic ceiling panels are replaced by contemporary materials. The sloped underground technical area will be excavated to increase usable height and allow installation of scenic lifts.
Teatro Oficina is still unique and innovative, therefore the changes proposed in the project not only preserve the integrity of the scenic space but also completely renovates it and adapt it to current demands. The new project updates the history of such important cultural hub, relocating it aesthetically and functionally to the principles of the 21st century, with delicate and sensible addition of new technologies, materials and concepts developed by contemporary architecture.
Client: Secretaria de Cultura do Estado de São Paulo
Location: São Paulo/SP, Brazil.
Project year: 2015-2016
Images: Nando Peres