The program of this project includes a main auditorium of 1,001 seats, a flexible auditorium of 150 seats, and exhibition areas.
Bahrain, “the kingdom of the two seas,“ offers a flat island landscape. The National Theatre fits in this landscape, connecting the sky and the sea. It expresses a cultural belonging to the Arab world and its layout is that of an Arab palace, settled around an empty central space. The traditional palace patio is replaced by the main foyer.
The main auditorium is located in the center of this space, encased like a precious jewel. The play of water, shade, and light is present throughout the building. The National Theatre is a landmark that embodies the artistic and cultural dynamism of the Kingdom both regionally and globally. It is designed to accommodate national and international events. It also serves as an urban and cultural center, a place for creation and rehearsal, where artists breathe life daily.
This is the auditorium inside PS 186, an abandoned elementary school smack-dab in the center of Harlem. Shut down in the 1970s over concerns about the amount of violent crime occurring in the turn-of-the-century school, it has very quickly fallen into an awful state of repair. This long exposure was taken during nautical and civil twilight, where the first strains of daylight were competing with the orange glow of the local streetlights.
You only have to climb a rickety ladder, balance yourself on a locker, weasel through a small opening in the ceiling, pull yourself up to crawl on two small boards that lift up if you move on them the wrong way just to see this.
Poking around the dozen or so abandoned structures which still stand on North Brother Island, the storied quarantine facility in the East River of New York City, one never knows what one will come across. I was amazed when I first came across the auditorium in the school building; this is the view of the seats from the stage. The first several rows - now exposed to the elements for 50+ years - have almost disintegrated into nothingness, and the back rows aren’t doing too great either. In another 50 years, it’s unlikely that much of the building itself will remain - it’s starting to crumble under the weight of time and the ravages of water.