A permanent theatre of stone enveloped in nature
Tones on the Stones has converted an old and abandoned quarry into a permanent theatre enveloped in nature. The Roncino quarry is located in Oira, a hamlet in the Ossola Valley surrounded by woods, terraced vineyards and ancient villages of stone built houses. The surrounding landscape shows just how deeply tied the history of this area is to quarrying and to the cutting and carving of stone, as witnessed by the extensive use of stone in local architecture. This is the historical, economic and cultural heritage that Tones on the Stones has always tried to highlight and expand upon.
The conversion of an industrial workplace into a cultural site is also seen as an opportunity to develop an area which already has a strong tourist vocation. Transforming a ‘critical issue’ into an opportunity, promoting the combination of Culture and Nature in a historical moment that has effectively exposed the fragile nature of urban fabric, strikes us as an interesting and highly motivating challenge.
The new Theatre will become the home base for Tones on the Stones, creating a space for so called ‘site-specific’ productions and international co-production projects, as well as spaces to host workshops for training artists and for courses open to everyone on environmental sustainability issues.
The Theatre will stimulate Tones on the Stones in its mission to further pursue research into digital technologies applicable to the production of outdoor live performances which will give rise to productions of large ‘immersive’ theatrical performances and to audio-visual experimental projects and installations with artists in residence. Above all, we now have a space, a real ‘shot in the arm’ for us, where we can meet, compare and create, and in which ‘digital’ is totally at the service of ‘analogue’ and where ‘digital’, as never before, manifestly appears to be the most important aspect of the whole creative process.
Project by FUZZ ATELIER
The project for “A Theatre of Stone in Nature” has been structured as a “site-specific” operation with the aim of enhancing the natural setting by means of a compositional strategy which is both modular and flexible, depending on the type of use. The functional layout of the entire project is largely determined by the geometrical lines carved out by the quarry itself and fully adapts to the shape of the landscape.
The project contemplates the preparation of the space for events and also for a series of additional functions to ensure that all necessary supplementary activities can be properly performed. The masterplan contemplates a ticket office, a refreshment area, a bar, a fully equipped stage with backstage, a technical area, a workshop area and finally a campsite with relative refreshment area.
The project for “A Theatre of Stone in Nature”, basically a ‘rethink’ of the long abandoned Roncino quarry, was conceived to be modifiable over a period of time and therefore open to further transformation in the future if so needed.
The architectural strategy is based on three fundamental principles: modularity, transparency and flexibility. These three aspects determine an approach which allows for a constant dialogue not only with the quarry’s natural surroundings but also with future theatrical producers who will be able to shape and model the space according to their specific needs. In practical terms, the construction process involves the superimposition of three main components: a steel modular structure, modular cladding panels of local stone and ‘modular constructions’ or ‘prefabricated volumes’, into which will be incorporated the so called ‘gabions’ (welded wire cages) filled with local stone.
The area of the quarry chosen for the events displays all the typical architectural features of a theatre which effectively conveys the idea of a symmetrical structure notwithstanding the irregularities of the quarry walls. The project is developed around a central space enclosed by the two walls of the quarry which house the supplementary activities.
The project for “A Theatre of Stone in Nature” stands out as an example of architectural and landscape design which draws on the natural context and the industrial archeology of the location, thus ensuring the continuation of a narrative and enabling future generations to actively experience these spaces and also to contribute to their transformation.