Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi

Keeping unchanged the external wrapping, Tadao Ando inserted inside an entirely new volume that defines the area for theatrical performances at Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana.

After the restoration of Palazzo Grassi in 2006, followed by that of Punta della Dogana in 2009, the rehabilitation of the Teatrino in 2013 marks the third step of François Pinault’s cultural project in Venice.

Conceived and executed by Tadao Ando in close collaboration with the competent authorities and services, this restoration maintains the spirit of architectural continuity of the preceding renovations.

With a 1,000 square-meter surface, the Teatrino is equipped with an auditorium of 225 seats, two foyers, and spaces for technical equipment (boxes, equipment for stage management and simultaneous translation, etc.).

Tadao Ando, Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy

Since it was built in 1961, the building of the Teatrino had never been modified either structurally or architecturally and it had been completely abandoned since 1983. It has a trapezoid plan of approximately 1,000 square meters, located between Calle delle Carrozze, Calle Grassi and two existing buildings on the two other sides. The architect Tadao Ando worked from the existing plan of the building and kept unaltered both the external position of the walls and their consistency. The roof was transformed into a unified and uniform slope. The resulting outer shape is a uniform rectangle shaped only on the front and rear to leave unchanged the original state of the external structure.

Once the external wrapping that keeps unchanged the preexisting outline of the structure was rebuilt, Tadao Ando inserted inside an entirely new volume that defines the area for theatrical performances and screenings and, giving an architectural shape to the space, it stands out like a new work of art that confronts the historical context in which it is placed.

Tadao Ando, Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy

This new structure defines two main areas that characterize the functional and architectural restoration project of the Teatrino: the first is an auditorium with a stage, a backstage with a technical room and a flight of steps with seats for the audience; the second is a foyer characterized by its large triangular openings on the walls that allows the free coming and going between the foyer and the adjoining areas, and by the large triangular skylight that brings natural light inside the building.

The control room, the translation booths and a storage area are located on an intermediate floor reachable by a side staircase. The vertical structures within the building were achieved by integrating the existing steel pillars, located along the perimeter and restored, with new steel structures, designed according to a curved line (the “twist” walls of the project). These pillars not only support the vertical load of the roof but also the walls specially created to guarantee that the auditorium is perfectly soundproof.

From the morphological analysis of the building, various types of existing coatings according to their location on the external walls were highlighted and then replaced with marmorino and natural lime coatings. The variety of coatings found on the walls was maintained only at the finishing works level. The façade that overlooks Calle delle Carrozze was covered with marmorino whereas the other fronts were coated with a treated lime mixture so as to create two different kinds of surfaces, thinner on the lower part and rougher on the higher part of the walls.

Tadao Ando, Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy

The roof was made with rolled zinc alloy so as to be reminiscent of the historic roof typologies made with rolled lead.
The internal finishing works project follows the minimalist approach that characterizes Tadao Ando’s architecture: the materials used to complete the vertical external walls are therefore found again inside. The inner part of the walls was polished with coating of lime. The curved walls of the internal structure, on one side, were coated with marmorino while the other side, the auditorium’s side, required the use of sound- absorbing materials. The floors have been made of exposed aggregate concrete, fitted carpet and wood.

In order to ensure the perfect impermeability of the building a watertight slab, also called a water retention tank, was achieved to provide protection against tides of up to two meters above the sea level. The tank leans on a slab and was constructed thanks to the most innovative technologies already used to restore Punta della Dogana.

Teatrino of Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy
Programme: theatre and auditorium
Area: 1000 sqm
Architect: Tadao Ando
Completion: may 2013

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