The Green Theatre at VDNH

realized
Address: 119c545 Prospect Mira, VDNH, Moscow
Workshop leader: Dmitri Likin, Oleg Shapiro
GAP: Eduard Rusenko
Architects: Vladimir Gusev, Ivan Korenkov, Evgeniya Sidorova, Bella Filatova
Photographs: Ilya Ivanov

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Abandoned for over 30 years, the Green Theatre located at the VDNH complex was once one of the city’s most popular venues. Now, it succeeded in coming back to live at maximum speed and with very modest means. With a capacity of 4000 seats, the Green Theatre is now Moscow’s largest open-air platform.

Objective:

To renew the area as fast and careful as possible for open-air events, making it one of the landmarks of VDNH’s larger transformation.

Solution:

A new wooden amphitheatre, created without touching the space’s layout and without distracting attention from the monument, turns the ruins of the theatre building into the city’s biggest open-air park space. The second phase of the project will see stalls and kiosks arise at the theatre entrance, creating an open-air summer version of the traditional theatre foyer that will make the Green Theatre a worthy alternative to the city’s conventional theatres, cinemas and concert halls.

The Green Theatre at VDNH was built in 1939, together with the first buildings of the VSHV complex, and was one of the most important sites of the city. Here, the Utesov ensemble performed, as did the aspiring singer Joseph Kobzon, and plays were performed. The theatre could fit up to 5000 visitors and was usually packed. But over the past 30 years it was barely used, also because it was located far away from VDNH’s main centres of activity, located along and on the right of the main avenue, where the amusement park is found. The commencing reconstruction of the complex envisages a more uniform and effective use of its space; the Green Theatre has to become popular once again.
The renovation of the square is part of the celebrations marking VDNH’s 75th anniversary, which are dedicated to both the history of the complex and its nascent renovation. Moreover, the renovation needs to be fast and accurate, in order not to hinder possible more extensive future construction works (complex restoration for instance).

The Green Theatre exists of two parts. Firstly, the theatre building itself, a round semicircular, neo-classical pavilion that surrounds the stage; secondly, a sloping amphitheatre, separated from the park by a balustrade. The VDNH administration took care of the theatre building, and our offices were invited to do the same for the amphitheatre and its surrounding.

When our work started, the amphitheatre was still equipped with its old theatre chairs, the bigger part of which was broken and through some of which weeds had even started to grow.
The contours of the old theatre were taken as the base for the design. New concrete steps were built on top, and then new seats for the spectators were installed. No chairs this time, but rather wooden benches covered in silver. At this moment they are still yellow, but with time the wood will gain a noble and romantic shade. In the second construction phase, the rows will be marked, which will complete the conceived appearance of the amphitheatre.

On the floor, tiles in brown tones will be laid. They protect the foundation of the amphitheater and look like earth or rock to maintain the space’s overall feeling of authenticity and simplicity, and its open nature.

The balustrade around the perimeter was renovated and modest lights were installed that do not interfere with the theatre’s natural, simple character.
To make sure that the theatre will be up for its new tasks, a sound-management platform was built in the centre. Furthermore, a cinema booth is in the plans, which will make VDNH the biggest of Moscow’s summer cinema’s, able to fit about 4000 people.

However, this is only the beginning. Implementation of the project’s second phase - entailing the creation of the theatre entrance, a complex of stalls, shops and a landscaped space - has yet to start.

Opposite to the ticket office and a cafe that will be located here, guests can find benches and lanterns, on which theatre posters can be stuck. Thus, the open air theatre gets its very own lobby, a place where dates can meet, guests can wait for their concert or film screening, or friends can have a bite before or after the performance.