The open-air theatre was designed for large cultural activities. It has a seating capacity of 4'500, backstage facilities, two smaller theatres/auditoriums (350-400 people), retail spaces, restrooms, VIP lounge, and rehearsal areas. The basic mass of the building is cylindrical. The commercial activities on the ground level provide financing for the building. The exterior of the building is made of red brick interspersed with courses of decorative patterns made of ceramic tiles or bevelled bricks. Small pairs of windows that bring light to the upper level passages make another horizontal pattern on the wall. On the parapet level, semi-circular arched openings run along the top of the wall. The building therefore, has a horizontal composition.
The arena of the theatre is primarily hexagonal in shape. The transfer from the circular envelope to the hexagonal stage engendered two types of circulation patterns: one that runs radially from the centre to the periphery and the other runs parallel to the sides of the hexagon. The overlap of the sides of the hexagon resulted in the location of some seating sections slightly off from the centre. This helps to lighten up the effect of the centrality of the composition, by accentuating slightly oblong lines of sight. The basic design premise starts from the functional requirements of sight lines and acoustics. As the arena was to accommodate an audience of 4,500, seating all around the stage provides close range visibility for the maximum number of viewers. The arena concept of this building is a direct reference to what the architect perceived as old Greek and Roman theatres. The main building has a reinforced concrete column-and-beam structure with handmade brick infill and red-brick cladding with traditional red surkhi mortar. Brick courses are interspersed with decorative ceramic tile courses. The flooring is made from terrazzo.
Photographs of Alhamra Open Air Theatre. Courtesy of Architect (submitted to the Aga Khan Award for Architecture), 1998.
For the Aga Khan Award for Architecture nomination procedures, architects are requested to submit several layers of documentation including photography. These images supplement the slides and digital images also submitted.