Revival | Open-Air Theatre


Posted on: December 1st, 2021

Revival | Open-Air Theatre

Revival is open-air theatre that matches the architectural integrity of the iconic typology.

Performing under the sky

The history of performances can be traced back to our inception, it occurred in all cultures in the form of ritualistic or spiritual art forms. While performative elements developed differently in all cultures, as societies grew, these spectacular visual elements began to be acted out under non-ritualistic conditions. They were conducted in the city’s communal spaces for the pleasure of all. Eventually, the interest in such arts in all groups of people gave rise to theatre spaces, these typologies arose autonomously. Though evidence has it that it began first in 5th century Athens. Since then various performance arts have brought newer and wider audiences to theatres.  It has led to the emergence of beautiful and elegant art forms and equally elegant theatres spaces

One of the first plays was performed in the theatre of Dionysus, an open-air theatre built in the shadow of the Acropolis. The theatre was dedicated to the god of drama. Both comedies and tragedies were performed at this large well-designed outdoor space.



Open-air theatre

Greeks built these open-air theatres where the people could watch performances in a constructed setting that would be amplified by the natural and acoustic quality of the space. The idea of these typologies was exported to their colonies and these theatres became a common element in Greek cities.  The Romans expanded on this concept with monumental backstages, improved acoustics and many other performance factors.

Erected from the ground, these raised semicircular auditoriums were freestanding structures of great engineering complexity. With awnings covering the harsh sun, the audience enjoyed this visual treat. Its massiveness in the natural landscape gave it an iconic identity. These structures still act as a backdrop to many global festivals.

People who visit such spaces describe it as natural chemistry that takes place between the actors and audience. Open-air performances offer the thrills and completely realistic sense that anything can happen.

Brief of the competition

In order to open the actors and audience, the performers have to challenge and project themselves in a different way. They experience the literal representation of “All the world’s a stage”. This typology is celebrated by using ancient theatres as a backdrop to performances, but as a completely new typology, it is yet to be explored at large.

The reason for it being the vulnerability of the outdoor atmosphere. Weather changes, unexpected natural elements and guests interpreting acts and the audience experience. Although due to restrictions in indoor theatre spaces in these times of pandemic, open-air theatres are gaining importance. So, how can we tackle these obstacles and make outdoor theatre spaces comfortable and safe? Through design how can we make open theatres relevant again?

Brief: The challenge here is to design an open-air theatre that matches the architectural integrity of the iconic typology while maintaining the trends and requirements of the performance arts industry today.


Design objectives

Resilient: How will the structure reflect the durability and strength of past open-air theatres through today’s materials and construction technologies.

Public Function: Structure must create public engagement for the visitors through play in built-unbuilt spaces (pavilions/landscape etc)

Technical: Design should consider the acoustic and lightning technicalities in respect to the audience and materials of the structure.

Identity: The structure must reflect the identity and culture of the place.

Challenges/Maintenance: Identify the challenges faced by visitors/performers and address them in your design.

Future: How will the theatre accommodate the evolution in future of the performance art industry and culture of our society as a whole?

The above objectives can be a point of beginning to conceive this design. Participants can assume their contexts and users before initiating their design process.

The design has to incorporate the basics of social distancing/safety precautions and must focus on inventing the identity through sit context and concept of the design.



Location: Palmero, Sicily
Area: 10,300 sq.m
Height restriction: 10 metres
Maximum Built Up Area: 10,300 sq.m
Ground coverage: 50%
Coordinates:  38°05’51.4″N 13°25’12.8″E

Palmero is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily.  It was founded by Phoenician traders in the 8th-century BC. It later became a Carthaginian settlement until its capture by the Romans in 254 BC. The Romans built many open-air theatres here and Palmero is known for the 12th-century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo is known for opera performances.

The site is located near the scenic backdrop of the ocean and the main city, for easy accessibility and public engagement.


Program outline

The following programmatic outline is the point to begin your design at. You can add more functions and activities in relevance or modify the below design programme.

Open-air Auditorium 40% 

1000 Seating, Performance stage

Backstage 10%

Green rooms, Toilets

Recreation 20%

Cafeterias/stalls, public engagement spaces, Landscape

Services / Circulation / Open Areas 30%

Cafeterias/stalls, public engagement spaces, Landscape

The programme must include the above mandatorily. However, the participants are free to add other programmatic facilities depending on their design. Parking need not be included in the design requirements.

Requirements / Eligibility

  • The minimum eligible age for participation is 18 years.
  • The competitions are open worldwide for designers from any discipline.
  • You can participate as an individual or as a team of a maximum of 4 members.
  • All students and professionals can participate in the competitions.
  • For Students: A student is someone who is currently enrolled in a full-time graduate/undergraduate program at a university anywhere in the world on the date of registration. We will need proof of identity upon the result declaration. The proof of identity should clearly state that you were enrolled in the institution at the time of registration. You may also produce a bonafide/authorized certificate from the institution as proof of identity. Students are allowed to involve one mentor/professor/guide in their team provided the mentor has been authorized via a bonafide certificate of the University.
  • All the participants who do not belong to the student category will be considered professionals by default. Ph.D. candidates will also be considered professionals.
  • Institutional access is a program for students only if they are participating in the competition as a group of 20 people and want to submit 5-20 entries together. Institutional access has to be done under the guidance of a mentor/professor.
  • A team with even one professional will be considered as a professional entry.

Submission Requirements

  1. Recommended number of sheets/presentation images/boards:
    3 (Three)of size [2800px x 3500px] in portrait digital format (JPEG only).
  2. Minimum 3 (Three) & No maximum sheet limit. Each image should be less than 15MB. (Do not submit PNG format)
  3. Minimumrequisite submission are sheets/boards + Cover image containing:
    1. Site plan
    2. Key concept section x 1
    3. 3D views x 4
    4. Additional cover image of 2000px x 1000px
    5. Write an article/story in the Journal section#of the project (of about 700-1000 words) answering the questions given in the guide pdf you receive in the additional resources.

Additional Resources

This competition contains additional resources that contain a set of files useful to complete the competition submission. This folder is made available on your profile dashboard automatically as soon as you register.

This additional resource folder of this competition contains:

Submission Format files in PSD | AI | InDD,
Guide to Journal Section + Questions,
Site Images,
High-Resolution Site Map, and
CAD file of the Site plan.

Submission / Key Dates

Registration Deadline: 21 March 2022
Submission Deadline: 22 March 2022
Winner Announcement: 19 May 2022


Read More: Architecture Competitions | Recreational Space