Developed as an art space and a combination of a micro theater, the Teatro Amianan is a contemporary addition to the existing Communication and Arts Building located along the campus boundary of the University of the Philippines Baguio. The theater is designed to accommodate up to 120 people for academic functions, including lectures, performances, and ceremonies supported and hosted by the university. As part of the University’s plan to redevelop and improve the totality of their grounds, the addition of this micro theater supports their vision to further develop and provide learning spaces that exceed existing academic norms.
Finding a location for the micro theater adjacent to the Communication and Arts Building was integral in the development of the project. The existence of excessive constraints and the lack of available space made it almost impossible to find a suitable and efficient setting for the micro theater. There was a need to work with an existing small shed located on a constrained and sloped area beside the building, which used to function as an art space and storage. The proposal to integrate the theater and combine it with the existing art gallery provided the opportunity to take advantage of the slope, which brought the theater to a level above, connecting it to the buildings nearby with landscape intervention and the use of ramps while maintaining and expanding the art space below.
To define the boundaries of the new theater, existing tree cover lines on the north side were maintained along with the campus edge, which is bordered by a drive that act as a major vehicular pathway going to and from the city center. These elements, albeit their potentially strategic presence in the city’s urban fabric, largely contribute to the constraints themselves, forming an evident separation between the site and its surroundings, leaving a nonexistent connection and relationship between the built and the natural environment. These conditions strongly define the direction of the project and become the preeminent topic of discussion.
The micro theater features a stepped standing seam roof, shaped accordingly as a response to the tree edges and existing buildings that surround it; and the slope of the amphitheater, subtly formed to a clamshell shape on plan, built on a glue laminated timber structure characterized by slanted columns and beams that enfold the interior space to a degree that softens the disparity between the shell and its framework, creating a distinct relationship between form, flow, and structure.
Teatro Amianan stands as an architectural manifestation of a site specific reaction towards these constraints and explores a contextual approach in design thinking by transforming a restrictive site into a space unbounded by its own limitations through material experimentation in timber construction and dematerialization of the physicality through the use of colors.
A specific color scheme was explored as an essential element in the interior through the use of a palette that conveys an abstract form of the theater’s former outdoor surroundings filled with vegetation, establishing an unrecognizable opposition between these different spatial variables.
The redevelopment of the sloped open space in front of the Communication and Arts Building and its alteration to a gathering space for the users of the university was equally crucial as the theater itself as it involved the transformation of a neglected and derelict area into a gathering space for the users of the university—a pathway that allows for all connections from pedestrian level to the theater, art gallery, and nearby academic buildings.