Acoustics, function and aesthetics work in harmony to produce a beautiful result at the new 525-seat performing arts theatre at the American International School of Johannesburg. Part of the master plan Flansburgh created for the school in 2011, the theatre includes a scene shop, dressing rooms, storage areas, and front-of-house support spaces. The stage is equipped with panels that can be pivoted to create a reflective acoustic shell for musical performances, and a large, movable wall opens onto an arts courtyard with access to music rehearsal spaces and visual and digital arts studios. The bold, geometric exterior mirrors the tone of the new fitness center, gymnasium and aquatics center Flansburgh designed for the school as part of its campus revitalization.
Multiple pathways lead to and from the performing arts center as it overlooks the campus’ central outdoor dining area and amphitheater. The orthogonal plan of the theatre is a seamless extension of the arts courtyard.
Connection To Outdoors
Large spans of glass between the various wings connect students and faculty to the interior courtyard and exterior surroundings. Informal gathering spaces located within the links have direct access to the courtyard.
Outdoor space flows through the theatre from one courtyard to another. The square courtyard-style theatre, with its ambulatories, side balconies and parteres, becomes an extension of the covered walkways and courtyards that characterize the campus. Its openness, proximity and ease of accessibility integrate it fully with the day-to-day activities of the rehearsal spaces and art studios.
Arts spaces are organized around an outdoor courtyard. The courtyard serves as an outdoor classroom during the day and an outdoor reception area in the evening (during performances). The theatre opens on to the courtyard while covered walkways lead rehearsal spaces directly on stage.
A highly flexible tech level with closely spaced catwalks extends over the house and stage. The fully controllable LED lighting can be located almost anywhere in the theatre. Catwalks are safely accessible by a perimeter tech balcony on the same level as the control room.
A major challenge of many performance spaces is to how to serve the competing needs of music and drama performances. The theatre uses innovative “pivoting shells” to quickly transform the theatre from a drama setting to a music setting. An adjustable proscenium, adjustable acoustics and the uniform tech level make the transformation complete. First two rows slide under stage to allow for pit orchestra.
Honors and Awards
American School & University 2016 Architectural Portfolio Outstanding Designs: Specialized Facility
Gauteng Institute of Architects: Commendation
|Client||American International School of Johannesburg|
|Architectural Team||David Croteau, Principal-in-charge; Joe Marshall, Project Manager|
|Consultants||Architect of Record: GLH & Associates; Project Manager: J M Henrey & Associates; Structural: WSP Consulting Engineers; Electrical: Taemane Consulting Ltd; Landscape: Uys & White; Pool Equipment Specialist: Martin Te Groen MTG Consult; Quantity Surveyor: TMS Group|