Above the traces of a Roman theatre, a new perimeter was built.
Fragments of a lost Platonic order were superimposed on the leftovers of an ancient building.
Steel frame construction was confronted with stone’s stereometric mass.
Into a preserved archaeologic park a stage for contemporary performances was introduced.
Cultural landscape was immersed into culture’s true nature.
Above the old Rome stands a new Babylon.
The archaeological remains of the Roman period theatre are located in the heart of Pula, on the eastern slope of the city's historic core. The reconstruction project involved a partial restoration of the cavea (seating section) of the former theatre, enabling the use of the site for the staging of events, plays and concerts. The fact that parts of the original footprint of this antique period edifice are overlaid by subsequent medieval and post-medieval strata precluded any plans for a complete reconstruction of the original perimeter of the cavea. The reconstruction, thus, encompassed much of the lower tier of the cavea and two segments (western and northern) of the upper tier.
A reduction of the cavea informed by the existing elements has produced two structural elements made of three-dimensional steel grille. The form of the new steel seating follows the layout of the former antique period cavea, with a passage set between the upper and lower tiers from which steps rise and descend, providing ingress and egress to and from the seating areas. This passage is conceived as the theatre's primary infrastructural spine; it houses all the electrical installations necessary for lighting, sound system, and an optical network. Unlike the steel seating sections, the central part of the cavea is done in white concrete without a support structure, laid directly on the cleaned bedrock, forming an integral part of the space's new topography.
In order to minimise the impact of new excavation associated with the reconstruction project at this archaeological site the steel structure was designed in a manner that transfers loads to the fewest possible footings, with a part of the seating area designed as a cantilevered structure. With regard to the structural statics, the load-bearing steel grid with its supporting steel columns forms a fixed frame having a span of about nine and a half by four metres. The calculations for this structure paid particular attention to the limit state of its serviceability and to meeting the criterion of minimum natural frequency (structural oscillation) in order to avoid the occurrence of resonance in use
This solution has developed a 1,200 seating capacity at the Roman period theatre. To ensure the effective circulation of this number of event attendants the design has revitalised six antique period entrance/exit points that had been active when the edifice was used for its original purpose.
Investor: Archaeological Museum of Istria
Architecture: Emil Jurcan (design)
Structure: Marko Martinčić Jr.
Conservation and restoration: Đeni Gobić Bravar
Conservation supervision: Nataša Nefat
Archaeological investigation: Silvana Petešić