This completes a series of reports about the Paolo Soleri Amphitheater in Santa Fe, New Mexico. [see 1/2, 1/5, 1/7 and 1/9/09].
With a closer look at the model we see the entrance gradually sloped to reach the below ground level amphitheater.
The long entrance runway was dug and the earth sculpted to provide a rigid body upon which a thin shell of concrete was poured.
Here is an image of the entrance, taken by Raffaele in August last year.
A bridge across the roof of the stage is also visible in the model, and here is an image from Raffaele the shows the bridge very well.
SOLERI’S OPEN-AIR THEATER IN SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
from “Soleri architecture as Human Ecology” by Antonietta Iolanda Lima, published by Jaca Books, 2000.
In 1964 Lloyd Kiva New, president of the Institute of American Arts and a friend and admirer of Soleri, commissioned him to build a three-hundred-seat open-air theater that would both serve its traditional function and “frame the moon and sun.”
Soleri accepted the assignment, although he still believed that the city should be the true focus of architecture.
For Soleri, the open-air theater offered another chance to experiment with low-cost materials in close connection with the environment.
What he was after was not so much stage mobility as synergy among the participants. He achieved this by creating a stage and seating with no division, a place where actors and musicians could interact with spectators.
It was a work of brutal expressionism that made the environment vibrant through an asyntactic division of space and elements that created pronounced dissonance. There were Corbusian reflections (the master plan for Chandigarh) in the plastic movement of the masses.
A large, upside-down vault was built above the stage and intersected with a bridge, creating natural flow in a tangle of shapes, projections, variously organized elements, and stairs.
Soleri said of the project:
We were hoping actors would use not just the stage, but also the area above it, and that’s why we designed the bridge and other platforms. It was meant to be similar to the Elizabethan theater, with action taking place on different levels …..
The notion of using the local landscape, geology, and natural materials was an integral part of the process. We molded earth and arranged the arches, then we excavated trenches and poured concrete to form the walls, using a technique that captures the consistency and shape of the earth itself. Rock, gravel, sand, and so forth were intentionally incorporated into the surfaces.