Lea Padovani Theatre in Montalto di Castro
Located in the heart of Tuscia, the town of Montalto di Castro has its origins in Etruscan times, witnessed by an architecture characterized by massive tuff volumes; in the contemporary collective imagination, Montalto di Castro also evokes the world of machines, an image due to the presence of the largest Italian power plant.
In 2002 the municipality decided to hold an international competition for the construction of a theater that had the function of redeveloping a peripheral area from the village, characterized by the presence of factories, commercial buildings and homes. Of the 148 proposals presented, the competition was won by the Prato MDU studio, which thanks to this work inaugurates the group's professional activity.
The theater consists essentially of concrete monoliths and interprets two themes that are dear to Mdu: on the one hand the "poetic measurement" of the territory, on the other the desire to create a place conceived as a "journey of approach to the spectacle". The area on which the project was developed was in the past used by the oil company Esso, and is flanked on one side by Via Aurelia Tarquinia, along which are developed a series of buildings and the Castrense National Road that connects the coast with Viterbo, the capital provincial. The works for the construction of the theater began in 2005 and ended six years later, in 2011. The concept was to create a space that could dialogue with the places that characterize the area through the use of contemporary forms and materials: the area archeology of Vulci and the Alessandro Volta power plant, the largest Italian thermal power plant that never went into operation due to political events.
Dedicated to actress Lea Padovani, born in Montalto di Castro in 1920, the theater is composed of a large concrete monolith furrowed by a sharp crack that divides the block into two, which rests on a base in travertine, recall of the Temple Grande di Vulci, dated 4th century B.C. On the south side, on the top of the concrete block, is a transparent polycarbonate parallelepiped, an element that has the characteristic of dematerializing itself during the day, merging with the sky but at night, illuminated from the inside, has the function of being a lighthouse, an energetic point of reference for the whole surrounding territory. Compared to the plan, the project is characterized by a well-defined longitudinal axis along which the external and internal environments are developed.
A large square extends on the north side and leads to the building that welcomes the visitor. The large glass entrance is surmounted by a cantilever colored concrete covering, while inside the space is enhanced by transversal walls covered in wooden slats that produce movement and vibration. The latter have a double function: to delimit and accommodate the rooms such as the ticket office, the cloakroom, the toilets and the offices, and to project the spectator directly to the hall. The fulcrum of the whole project is represented by the large stage located between the indoor hall and the outdoor area of 500 seats, creating a link between the internal and external environment. The theater is therefore a versatile environment that lends itself to hosting events both during the summer season with the large summer arena, and during the winter season, with the use of indoor spaces.