A sustainable temporary theatre.

Client: [] international theatre design competition, Finalist
Status: exhibited at the WSD2013 event, September 2013, Cardiff

Both temporal and sustainable design issues are part of a larger trend, however, both with a slightly different inducement.

How can the sustainability of a temporary structure be justified?

A combination of both is rarer and seems contradictory due to their short- and long-term mind, but in fact it challenges different and unexpected thoughts to think about sustainability. Adding the programmatic and safety requirements needed for a public theatre, this competition stands for a particularly interesting and topical defiance. How can the sustainability of a temporary structure be justified?

To meet the durability, safety and feasibility requirements, we use a balanced mix of materials and their application and we make sure that all used materials will have a long lifecycle. Either by rent, recycle or providing a second life after the show. Finally, by minimizing the waste of material that is used only for 10 days.

“…minimizing the waste of material that is used for the 10-days exhibition period…”

Besides the sustainability issue, the theatre just as well must comply to the universal theatre standards. Therefor our design is based on the most ideal conditions for a flexible theatre: a square flat floor stage area with an adequate clear height. Dry sound acoustics, ventilation, natural light, and the ability to darken the theatre. The arrangement of the linkable seats is flexible and so many conceivable configurations for both the stage and the spectators are possible.

The appearance of the theatre box within the courtyard of the Anthony Hopkins Centre might seem impertinent due to the possible denial of the environment or it’s secretive façade. But that is not the case. It is just because of its introverted character and its expressing of the subdued expectation of what is to come. Serene and quiet, nothing yet revealing, subtly challenging.

The interior of the theatre is completely the opposite. Colourful and accessible, an extrovert counterpart to the restrained exterior. It is all about the content!

The outer façade cladding, constructed out of the back side of the carpet tiles, works like snake scales. Protected from rain due to its water-repellent coating, and open enough to breathe by means of natural ventilation. The soft and coloured side of the carpet tile directed to the inner side of the theatre ensures good acoustics and a vivid background for the inner wall.

The interior façade is constructed from the leftovers / cut-out boards where all the chairs are produced from. The perforated inner wall in combination with the soft side colourful outer wall provides an excellent acoustics and an easy, festive atmosphere.

All the materials used get a second life!

The life cycle of the rental scaffolding, used for the basic structure, is properly long and therefore undisputedly sustainable.

The carpet tiles used for the façade cladding will be collected from vacant offices around town or interior projects where they have been replaced by a new floor. These tiles are fully recyclable, so after the show they will be converted into new ones.

To provide all the seats for the theatre we will manufacture them out of multiplex boards. The leftovers will be used to construct the inner wall.

The utility of the chairs will have a sequel as they will be sold after the festival, retrospective crowdsourcing or will be given away to provide a tangible memory of the Cardiff WSD 2013 Festival to its visitors. Finally, also the multiplex chairs are assigned to a longer and durable life cycle.


Project name: parabox
Location: Cardiff, Wales
Program: Theater (temporary construction) with 100 to 150 seats, appropriate for all kind of performances and formal presentations. The theater is both weather and soundproof, and provide Blackout to allow theatre lighting


Design team: Tom van Odijk, David Baars, Alexine Sammut