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Structurally, the entire building is supported by a series of strategically engineered sticks and columns. A dynamic environment is created where the building itself becomes a backdrop of performance. Performers and visitors ‘dance’ between each other, involving everyone in the overall performance of circulation.

The entire structure is enveloped by a translucent polycarbonate shroud, providing protection from the elements while allowing a hint of activity to be glimpsed when strongly illuminated from the inside. The building’s interiors are exposed, becoming an integral part of the performance. The shroud that envelops the building’s skin draws inspiration from the concept of masking and concealment, a key aspect of puppetry. The legs and columns that support the building are reminiscent of the armatures that connect the body of a puppet to its manipulator. Just as a puppeteer manipulates a puppet from behind the scenes, the shroud acts as a symbolic veil, teasing and hinting at the activities happening within.

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CLIENT: STARA ZAGORA’S PUPPET THEATRE

LOCATION: STARA ZAGORA

CRAB’s extension to the Experimental Puppetry Arts Centre in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria centres around two distinct ‘vessels’ – a new performance hall and a rehearsal room, separated by a foyer in between. The key idea is to elevate these functions, raising them up to create an entirely new world beneath that serves as a sheltered space for performances and other activities.

A meandering ramp in the landscape envelops an open air amphitheatre whilst providing access to the foyer and vessels above. A staircase from ground to the upper levels adds a secondary, faster route into the building above. Throughout the landscape, structural glazed elements are incorporated, offering transparency and a visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces.

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