2017 Architecture Commission Meeting Minutes

Sep 12, 2017

OISTAT Architecture Commission / Business Meeting 
Minutes of Meeting in Taipei, Taiwan on 5 July 2017


1.1     The following were present:

Tim Foster                       United Kingdom (chair)             
Torsten Nobling             Sweden (vice-chair)          
Martien van Goor          Netherlands (vice-chair)            
Markéta Fantová           Czech Republic               
Jerome Maeckelbergh    Belgium                  
Greg Cook                       USA                        
Randy Earle                    USA                        
Brad Steinmetz             USA                        
Louis Janssen               Netherlands                      
John Faulkner               United Kingdom               
Joana Saboeiro            Portugal                   
José Capele                  Portugal                  
Maaike Westinga         Netherlands                      
Roel ten Bras                Netherlands                      
José Luis Ferrera      Spain                               
Jeong Sik Yoo             S Korea                   
Pu Lin                            Taiwan                             
Szuyun Yu                    Taiwan/OISTAT  HQ         

 1.2     A paper was circulated to record those present and their contact details (see above), which will be added to the OISTAT circulation list for the Architecture Commission. Anyone wishing to be added to this list or to update their details can email OISTAT HQ with a request. If any addresses above are incorrect please inform Tim Foster. (*Headquarters decided to delete all the e-mails when uploading on the website)


2.1     Minutes of the previous Business Meeting of the AC, held in Seville on 10 June 2015 were read out and agreed.


3.1     TF reported on recent activity and meetings. These are covered in the AC report presented to Congress and appended to these minutes. Main activities reported on include:


4.1     Markéta Fantová, the director of PQ19, gave a brief summary of proposals for Architecture/Performance Space at the next PQ, which will be curated by Andrew Todd. There will be no national exhibits in the architecture category although architecture can be included in National Exhibits. A final call for entries will be issued in 2 months time. Description from the PQ website is as follows:

Prague Quadrennial is asking architects/space creators and performance designers to participate in a competitive exhibition by sending short videos about projects realized in the past 6 years. All submissions need to show the space as well as how it is used in performance. All submitted videos must include a dialogue between the space creator (architect) and the performance designer/s or performers using the space. The documentary video can be made on a smartphone and shouldn't exceed 5 minutes. This way any newly created space can be included in the exhibition, including temporary structures in areas hard to reach. All films that fulfil the submission criteria will be shown at PQ. The five best film creative teams will be invited to come and present their projects in person. In addition to the exhibition, PQ will organize both live events and PQ Talks presentations to support and continue this very important dialogue.

The exhibit will be returning to the remaining 2 wings of the Industrial Palace in Prague. Markéta said she would welcome any comments on this proposal. She then had to leave for another meeting.


5.1     The Architecture Commission aims to meet at least once a year to provide an opportunity for anyone with an interest in theatre buildings to meet, to visit theatre buildings and to hold meetings and seminars with local practitioners. Forthcoming Meetings are being planned for:

2017     Taiwan
Immediately after the WSD Congress there is a 3 day tour taking place of new theatres in Taiwan. Approximately 20 people are participating. Pu Lin of TATT gave a brief introduction to the tour. Visits are scheduled to the Cloudgate Theatre and new Performing Arts Centres in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung. TF said he looked forward to it and thanked Pu Lin for organizing the tour.

2018    Chicago, USA (October)
Greg Cooke of the USITT spoke about developing plans for the meeting, which will take place from 10-14 October 2018. He issued a preliminary schedule (copy attached). USITT have now made arrangements with a downtown hotel and hope to be able to offer 2 free nights to delegates. The meeting also coincides with Open House weekend allowing access to many other buildings. TF thanked GC for his work on this and said publicity should be issued as early as possible to get the best possible attendance. 

2019    Prague, Czech Republic (June) to coincide with PQ19
Further work is needed but the aim will be to organize an architectural tour of theatres in the region during or immediately after PQ. Jan Rolnik has offered to assist.

TF would welcome any other suggestions or ideas for future meetings.


6.1     There was a discussion about the need to widen participation in AC meetings. AC meetings and activities are supported by a relatively small but loyal group of theatre architects and designers but greater participation from the wider theatre design community and other countries and regions needs to be encouraged. The following ideas were discussed:

TF welcomed all of the above and asked members and supporters to assist by raising the profile of the AC in their own countries. He emphasized that AC activities are open to anyone with an interest in theatre buildings.


7.1     Theatres of Latin America
José Luis Ferrera had intended to talk about the Theatres of Latin America research project but due to time constraints he was unable to do so but invited AC members to attend his separate presentation the following day. 

7.2     Modern Use of Historic Stage Machinery
Jerome Maeckelbergh had intended to talk about his work on the modern use of historic stage machinery but due to time constraints he was unable to do so but invited AC members to attend his separate presentation the following day. 

7.3     Taipei Performing Arts Centre
Austin Wang, the director of TPAC, gave a presentation on the new building, currently under construction. Those going on the theatre tour would be visiting the site but would not be able to go inside as the site is closed. The building, designed by international architects OMA (Rem Koolhaas), will provide 3 theatres; a grand theatre, a playhouse and a flexible multi-form space. The stages of the grand theatre and multi-form theatre are arranged back to back and can be opened up to create a super theatre with an 80m deep stage. The building comprises a large cube, raised off the ground, with the 3 auditoria projecting from it. The building is entered via escalators from a plaza underneath. There is also a separate public loop, which takes the public through the stages to the roof terrace, allowing glimpses of backstage activity. Work on site has currently stopped as the contractor had gone into liquidation. It was hoped to appoint a new contractor and resume work soon. Completion is anticipated in 2019.

7.4     Members Projects
As is customary there was also an opportunity for members of the Architecture Commission to share and discuss recent work, at which Martien van Goor, Roel ten Bras and Tim Foster showed projects.

Tim Foster
Chair of OISTAT Architecture Commission


The Architecture Commission’s major undertaking in 2016 and 2017 has been the organisation of the 10th Theatre Architecture Competition (TAC2017). In the past the competition has been organised every four years to coincide with the Prague Quadrennial. However in 2015 we took the decision to move the competition away from Prague to Berlin, at the invitation of the DTHG, the German OISTAT centre. We then decided that in future we should move the competition to World Stage Design, which is an OISTAT event. As a result this competition has taken place only two years after the previous one and is being exhibited for the first time at World Stage Design 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan, the home of OISTAT Headquarters.

102 entries were received from 22 different countries. Perhaps because of the shorter lead-in period and the move away from Europe, we have had fewer submissions than previously, but have still received over 100 entries with far higher numbers coming from the South East Asia than previously, which means we are opening up a whole new cohort of students and young practitioners wanting to engage with the design of that most elusive and fascinating building type - a theatre. The top 25 entries are being exhibited at World Stage Design and a digital catalogue is being prepared, which will available to download from the OISTAT website.

The site selected for the competition was a disused sports stadium in Hsinchu City in Taiwan, an interesting architectural relic from the mid 20thC, which is looking for a new use. We are extremely grateful to the Government of Hsinchu City for their generous financial support of the competition and in particular to Professor Chun-Hsiung Wang and Mr Sheng-Yuan Huang of Fieldoffice Architects, who have both helped to make this possible.

I would also like to give special thanks to my fellow members of the jury, Hitoshi Abi, Aby Cohen, Sheng-Yuan Huang and Torsten Nobling, who have given freely of their time and expertise and without whom we would not have a result. Special thanks are also due to Pei-Hsin Chen for her tireless work organising the jury meeting in Hsinchu City in May and to Szuyun Yu at OISTAT headquarters, who managed the equally important task of processing questions, receiving the submissions and ensuring entry fees were safely received.

The 2016 meeting of the Architecture Commission took place in Seville, Spain on 20-24 October 2016 and I am extremely grateful to José Luis Ferrara and his enthusiastic team from OISTAT España for their organization of 3 days of conference, events and theatre visits, which was attended by several OISTAT commissions. Following 2 days of meetings of the Executive Committee, The Governing Board and several commissions there was a conference on ‘Theatres of Andalucia’ interspersed with visits to see local theatres and the magnificent Maestranza of Sevilla Bullring. On the final day there was a tour to see the Roman Theatre at Merida. Sadly the adjoining Museum of Roman Art was not open on a Monday.

As is customary there was also an opportunity for members of the Architecture Commission to share and discuss recent work, at which Torsten Nobling, Martien van Goor, Nova Kovacs, Sandor Palfy, Reinhold Daberto and myself showed projects. There was also a presentation by Greg Cook, the architecture commissioner for the USITT, in which he outlined his plans for a meeting of the Architecture Commission in Chicago in October 2018.

At the formal business meeting of the Architecture Commission I was honoured to be elected as chair of the commission for a second term, together with Reinhold Daberto, Martien van Goor and Torsten Nobling, who all agreed to serve as vice-chairs. Markéta Fantová, the director of the Prague Quadrennial, also led a discussion on how to give architecture a greater profile at PQ19, following its decline in recent years.

A joint meeting of the Architecture and Research Commission also took place in London in May 2017. This was organized at short notice by The Association of British Theatre Technicians to coincide with a conference organized by The Victoria and Albert Museum to discuss the historic collection of 19thC painted scenery at the Normansfield Theatre, which has recently been conserved. On the day before the conference a tour of historic theatres in London was organized, which included two surviving 19thC music halls, Hoxton Hall and Wilton’s Music Hall, and the famous Theatre Royal Drury Lane. We also visited the recently upgraded Dorfman Theatre (formerly The Cottesloe) at The National Theatre and finished the day with a dinner at the historic Garrick Club, kindly arranged for us by Iain Mackintosh.

The Architecture Commission will be meeting again in Taiwan in 2017, during World Stage Design and the OISTAT Congress. This will provide an opportunity to see the exhibition of the prize-winners and top 25 entries to the Theatre Architecture Competition and to see some new theatres in Taiwan. Taiwan is currently building three major new performing arts centres, each designed by significant international architects, and a tour of these theatres and other places of interest has been arranged to take place on 7-9 July.

Future Meetings
The Architecture Commission aims to meet at least once a year to provide an opportunity for anyone with an interest in theatre buildings to meet, to visit theatre buildings and to hold meetings and seminars with local practitioners. Forthcoming Meetings are being planned for:

2017        Taipei, Taiwan (July) to coincide with World Stage Design
2018        Chicago, USA (October) to coincide with ‘Open House’
2019        Prague, Czech Republic (June) to coincide with PQ19

If anyone has suggestions for future meetings please do get in touch. I would like to emphasize that Architecture Commission meetings are open to everyone with an interest in theatre buildings and are generally self-funded, where delegates are responsible for their own travel and hotel costs. Do come along and join us.

Tim Foster
Chair of OISTAT Architecture Commission

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