October 12, 2018
by Canadian Architect
+VG Architects, with a track record of successful theatres in Milton and Huntsville, Ont., was hired to design a new, 500-seat, 80,000-square-foot theatre, budgeted at $35-million, for Sheridan College’s Trafalgar Road campus in Oakville, Ont. Construction is expected to commence by 2020.
The new theatre will be a multipurpose hall with an orchestra pit and a tall fly tower, making it capable of hosting chamber music, dance, drama, musical theatre and orchestral performances as well as conference, film and lecture presentations.
The acoustics will be adjustable. Inside the audience chamber, curtains on the wall surfaces will render the room absorbent and acoustically “dead” to make the sound die away quickly, which is essential for easy comprehension of speech. Or, the curtains will retract into pockets to make the room more reflective and provide the longer, “live” reverberation time appropriate for concerts.
There’s music offstage, too. “The columns are not just structural elements,” says Yaser Rahmanian, associate partner, project manager and design development architect at the Brantford, Ont., office of +VG Architects. “The locations of the columns, and the linear and spot lights in the ceiling, create a rhythm, a musical notation of lines and dots.” The design language of the lobby repeats on the spandrel glazing and aluminum fins running along the exterior.
The monumental-scale banner advertising the current or upcoming production on the side of the fly tower will be visible from Trafalgar Road, the principal traffic artery. The banner will be the only element, inside or out, to depart from the limited colour palette of white Corian, grey wall board, Brazilian-wood-grained P-Lam cladding, and honed, polished and split-face Ontario limestone. Glare and light spillage from the theatre will be minimally obtrusive to the residential community across the street.
One goes to a live performance not just to see an entertainment, but to promenade in the crush space before the performance starts and during intermissions, to see and be seen. +VG’s design reinforces the sense of buzz by making these moments of spontaneous theatre visible from a distance.
“This is a theatre about theatre,” Mr. Rahmanian says. “As part of the facility’s educational mission, we wanted to show off the process of the theatre to other students and to the public. Rather than featuring one element, we’re showcasing the whole story. The main, front view will be like a cut or section drawing allowing the public to see what’s happening inside the building. From the exterior, they will see all the public amenities, including ticketing, coat room and servery areas.”
As for location, the original idea was to situate the new theatre prominently along Trafalgar Road at the Sheridan campus. Then the site was moved to the north side of the campus, with access from Sheridan Street, to a location adjacent to the existing theatre, where the new building can exploit the existing studios, carpentry shop and other back-of-house support facilities. The old theatre will live on as a rehearsal hall for the new proscenium theatre and as a black-box theatre for more intimate and experimental productions.
Images via +VG Architects / Lifang Vision Technology.