It was recently announced that Danish architect Bjarke Ingels was selected to design the new National Theatre of Albania. For Ingels, who’s the founder and creative partner of the internationally renowned firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the news comes on the heels of several recent high-profile commissions (including New York’s Two World Trade Center). The Danish innovator will be the first high-profile architect to design a public structure in the country.
The lines of the new National Theatre, which is shaped like a prism, become compressed and angled away from the ground as they move toward the center of the building. This allows for a covered atrium in the middle of the venue, where visitors can walk freely under its shade. “Underneath, the theater arches up from the ground creating an entrance canopy for the audience as well as the performers,” said Ingels in a statement.
The rooftop follows a similar path, angling downward toward the middle of the building where it connects to create an additional outdoor performance space. To create the building, BIG collaborated with the local architecture firm SON Engineering & Construction, as well as Theatre Projects, a Paris-based group that’s responsible for some of the most cutting-edge theater designs around the globe. The result culminates in a space that is transparent at both ends, as floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the streets. This effectively allows the public at large to experience rehearsals, set designs, and other elements of the theater that are generally conducted away from the community’s purview.
The new National Theatre of Albania (which will replace the existing auditorium) will cover a plot of land slightly larger than 86,000 square feet, and will be located adjacent to the iconic Skanderbeg Square, the National Opera, and the National Art Gallery. For Albania, a country that has been a candidate for accession to the European Union since 2014, the BIG-designed building will signal the first time that a high-profile architect has designed a public structure in the country. Indeed, Bjarke Ingels Group has received several awards, such as the 2011 Prix Delarue, French Academy of Architecture, the 2013 Progressive Architecture Award, and the 2016 American Institute of Architects New York Chapter Design Awards.