Peter Halquist – Fourth Wall Studio: a theatre, in parts

In the interactions between performer and audience, a consistent thread can be found, tracing back from the present to the origins of ancient theatre. It is this lengthy and convoluted
dialogue between dramatist, audience, and architect, that guides the investigations of this studio. According to the theatre scholar Hans Thies Lehmann, “Theatre can only ever be ambiguously ‘real’”, however, a theatre is unquestionably a ‘real’ place, brimming with material, functional, and spatial features. It is these features upon which this studio will linger its attention.

Looking in-between the worlds of the ‘real’ and ambiguous space(s) of theatre, this studio embraces specific design approaches, privileging physical encounters with theatre, while working to adapt an existing historic building which encompasses much of the site,
located in the emerging Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. This studio traveled to Chicago to visit the site and attend the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

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Student Work

Brian Pekar – “Inside Looking In”

The project functions as a study of social housing conditions and their pairing with a semi rigid programmatic element of a community centric theater. Sharing typological frameworks and influences, these elements interact through viewports creating a courtyard condition familiar in apartment living but shifted to share space with the theater’s fly tower. This relationship allows residents and occupants to view the ongoings of the theater stage, creating a new form and platform of performance. Treating each unit’s viewport as a proscenium frames different props and pieces of equipment as actors playing a role. This experience changes from floor to floor in the three story courtyard.

Hana Saifullah – “Renew Ownership”

Pilsen, Chicago is a haven for many Latin American immigrants. The resulting lively & unique culture–now “discovered”–has spurred displacement of residents and unwelcome commercial development. This proposal aims to renew a sense of ownership by providing residents ownership & stewardship of the site, by purchasing the site & existing building & forming a co-op to oversee them. Then, much of the site is divided into plots the size of an urban backyard, permitting more direct authority over the future of that plot of land. The proposal focuses on deploying the adaptable programs of theatre (scene shops, kitchens, etc.) across the entire site.

Shujian You – “The Aperture” – A Theater Enclosed by Fourth Walls

…Is an experimentation toward a new type of theater, encompasing subtle shifts from a conventional theater model. Programmed “Agency spaces” are created to mediate the separation between interior and exterior of a theater. These spaces are projections from different parts of the theater, which have dialogs with both the inside, stage, auditorium, and the outside public. Apertures generated with agency space act as the “fourth wall” between the inside and the outside urban space. Ultimately, the entire theater becomes a stage–agency spaces become a stage–and the people around become the urban audience.

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