NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

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NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

Estonian studio Salto Architects have completed a temporary summer theatre in Tallinn made of black spray-painted straw bales.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

Visitors climb stairs inside a stepped tunnel to access the Straw Theatre's rectangular hall.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

A system of trusses holds the stacked straw bales in place.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

Located on a fortified hilltop, the site used to host regular summer theatre for Soviet Troops but has been abandoned for over twenty years.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

The stage will be in place for six months to celebrate Tallinn's status as a 2011 European Capital of Culture.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

Temporary theatres and cinemas have been popular on Dezeen lately - see our earlier stories about a timber theatre elsewhere in Estonia and an English cinema under a motorway flyover.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

Photography is by Martin Siplane and Karli Luik.

The following information is provided by the architects:


Location: Skoone Bastion, Tallinn, Estonia
Credits: Maarja Kask, Karli Luik, Ralf Lõoke, Pelle-Sten Viiburg
Project year: 2010-2011

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

NO99 Straw Theatre is an object standing on the verge of being a pure functional container on one hand, and an art installation on the other.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

The Straw Theatre is built on the occasion of Tallinn being the European Capital of Culture, to house a special summer season programme of theatre NO99, lasting from May to October 2011. Thus it is a temporary building, operating for half a year, built for a specific purpose, programme and location.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

The Straw Theatre is built in central Tallinn, on top of the former Skoone bastion, one of the best preserved baroque fortifications of Tallinn. At the beginning of the 20th century, the bastion worked as a public garden, and during the Soviet era it was more or less restricted recreational area for the Soviet navy with a wooden summer theatre and a park on top.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

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With the summer theatre having burnt down and the Soviet troops gone, for the last 20 years the bastion has remained a closed and neglected spot in the centre of town with real estate controversies and several failed large-scale development plans. In such a context, the Straw Theatre is an attempt to acknowledge and temporarily reactivate the location, test its potential and bring it back to use, doing all this with equally due respect to all historical layers of the site.

NO99 Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

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The rectangular main volume of the theatre is situated exactly on the same spot as the navy summer theatre, and one descending flight of stairs of the latter is used as a covered walkway and entrance area to the Straw Theatre. The building is surrounded by various outdoor recreational functions including an oversized chess board, table tennis, swings, and a baking oven, all with a non-commercial and pleasantly low-key feel.

Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

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The dramatic appeal of the building stems from its contextual setting on the site and its black, uncompromisingly mute main volume contrasting with a descending „tail“ with an articulate angular roof. And of course one cannot escape the effect of the material – uncovered straw bales, spraypainted black.

Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

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The Straw Theatre is a unique occasion where straw has been used for a large public building and adjusted to a refined architectural form. For reinforcement purposes, the straw walls have been secured with trusses, which is a type of construction previously unused. As the building is temporary, it has not been insulated as normal straw construction would require but has been kept open to experience the raw tactile qualities of the material and accentuate the symbolic level of the life cycle of this sustainable material.

Straw Theatre by Salto Architects

Click above for larger image

  • Mar.

    pictures dont do it justice!
    In person its far more fantastic

  • http://www.kjolebloggen.dk/ Kjolebloggen

    I like the colors very much. The dark-matte grey/black.

  • http://www.deloprojet.com delo

    The texture of the construction of the building looks to the textures of the paintings of the artist South Korean cat Kea Nam, black fibre. Who gives a very interesting.

  • Katsudon

    Obviously a non-smoking area.

    • thomas

      Straw bales don’t burn as easily as wood.

  • Rida

    "the raw tactile qualities of the material and accentuate the symbolic level of the life cycle of this sustainable material"
    Which cycle of life ? painted like that it won't be recyclable at all.
    complete paradox. If it's a "sustainable" building, why wasting loads of toxic black paint ? it is destroying all its qualities.
    would have been way stronger with pure raw steel and raw staw.

  • eltangente

    Agree with Rida. Wonderful forms, and great impact on the site, but the involvement of spray paint in such vast quantities make any environmental credentials this might have been able to champion, seem a little hard to believe. Shame.

  • http://www.knuffelsalacarte.nl Simon

    It really looks stunning. I would love to see it for real. Unfortunately Talinn isn't around the corner.

  • Hercule Poirot

    I don't like the beech chair in front of the orange barrel. Doesn't fit with the stilish black of the walls.

  • Michael

    Seems a little harsh to condemn its lack of sustainability because of the paint spec when we don't know what the spec actually is (unless you know something I don't?). Considered as a whole it must be considerably more sustainable than many of the alternatives even including for the worst types of paint. Straw bales are more or less a wonder material – incredibly cheap both financially and ecologically, light (therefore saving on foundations), highly insulating for both sound and thermal energy and fire retardant (the outer layer chars, protecting the inside) – but they should be sealed as far as I understand it and hence the paint or a render of some sort is probably necessary. I'd be interested to have this clarified though if someone knows more.
    The whole reminds me a little of Zumthor through a clarity in material experimentation but without the subtlety of form that he would probably have employed. The entrance corridor is a bit too much like wilful shape-making for my liking – but then who am I to say! It kept my attention long enough to write this anyway!

  • rock

    it's good, but i also thought about the paint: is it biodegradable?