Modern Slovak Theatre Architecture

Modern theatre architecture and theatres in unconventional theatre spaces

By The Theatre Institute

Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra (21st Century) by Ľubo StachoThe Theatre Institute

Modern theatre architecture

In architectural terms, theatre buildings constructed in the last three decades of the 20th century make a consistent group. Generally, they are monumental and representational buildings, generously conceived in terms of space and using elegant stone-tiled façades.

Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra

The Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra is a monumental solitaire making use of a spatially generous solution. The whole design consists of two voluminous spaces – the larger being the drama hall auditorium, and the smaller an experimental studio.

Interior of the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra (2011) by Olja Triaška StefanovićThe Theatre Institute

Interior of the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra.

Interior of the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra (21st Century) by Olja Triaška StefanovićThe Theatre Institute

Interior of the Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra.

New building of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava (21st Century) by Ľubo StachoThe Theatre Institute

New building of the Slovak National Theatre

In 1979, 53 creative teams took part in the national Czechoslovak competition to design the new building of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava. The project was started in 1986 and completed in 2007.  The theatre building is a nearly symmetrical composition of two basic spaces – the opera hall and the drama hall. They are connected in a theatre square that is open towards the Danube river.

Architectural proposals, the new building of the Slovak National Theatre (1993) by Ing. arch. Peter Bauer, Ing. arch. Martin Kusý, Ing. arch. Pavol PaňákThe Theatre Institute

Architectural proposals of the new building

The winning project was proposal No. 20 designed by architects Peter Bauer, Martin Kusý, and Pavol Paňák.

Opera hall of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava (21st Century) by Olja Triaška StefanovićThe Theatre Institute

The opera hall in the new building of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava.

Studio of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava (21st Century) by Olja Triaška StefanovićThe Theatre Institute

The drama hall in the new building of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava.

Interior of the Puppet Theatre on the Crossroads (2011) by Olja Triaška StefanovićThe Theatre Institute

Theatres in unconventional theatre spaces

At present, many theatre ensembles look for adequate spaces for their performances in other than traditional theatre architecture (for various reasons). With increasing frequency, theatre companies go out of their theatre buildings in search for attractive non-theatrical spaces. 

Photograph, the Žilina-Záriečie Station (2009) by Jitka SedlákováThe Theatre Institute

Theatre companies have performed in city squares, residential and non-residential premises, or spaces that are or were used for different purposes. They look for an immediate contact with audiences.

The Puppet Theatre on the Crossroads, Banská Bystrica (2007) by Ľubo StachoThe Theatre Institute

The Puppet Theatre on the Crossroads, Banská Bystrica

The theatre used a space known as Dominika in one of two city villas in Banská Bystrica built in the early 20th century.
Architects Tibor Majláth and stage designer Ján Zavarský won the 1994 bid called to rebuild the villas to a cultural and social complex, but only one part of the original plan was carried out.

The theatre hall is located in the loft, which makes use of the generous height of the original attic frame. 

Interior of the Puppet Theatre on the Crossroads (2011) by Olja Triaška StefanovićThe Theatre Institute

The space sits 100-130 spectators. Because mobile elements were used, the auditorium is flexible and can be arranged in several variable ways.

Theatre in the Tower in Bratislava (21st Century) by Peter KováčThe Theatre Institute

The Theatre in the Tower in Bratislava

The Theatre in the Tower operates as a private theatre evening party held in one of the most beautiful houses (a villa) in Palisády in Bratislava. The villa that hosts these events is listed as a cultural heritage sight. 

Interior of the Theatre in the Tower in Bratislava (2014) by Peter KováčThe Theatre Institute

The living room fits only about 30 people and is thus a very intimate theatre space. The soirées are made more interesting by the possibility to chat with the artists before and after the performance. 

Interior of the Theatre in the Tower in Bratislava (21st Century) by Peter KováčThe Theatre Institute

Maroš Kramár’s apartment theatre indirectly evokes the atmosphere of popular social salons at the turn of the 20th century.

Theatre at the Žilina-Záriečie Station (21st Century) by Jitka SedlákováThe Theatre Institute

Theatre at the Žilina-Záriečie Station

The architectural experiment Žilina-Záriečie Station – S2, was created as a multifunctional space with a primary focus on contemporary theatre and dance.

 It was built from 3,000 beer crates, 800 straw packs, pressed and regular planks, as well as 120 old railroad ties. The theatre building respected the urban perspective and was placed beneath the natural roof of the Rondel overpass in Žilina.

A 12-metre old ship container also became part of the design – it served as the entrance to the theatre. The inner wall was built from straw packs fastened between planks using the method of Dutch builder Tom Rivjen.

Interior of the Theatre at the Žilina-Záriečie Station (21st Century) by Jitka SedlákováThe Theatre Institute

The space had a capacity of 200 people. In addition to theatre and dance performances, the building hosted also conference and festivals, until it burned down in 2018.
(the interior of the S2 building before it burned down)

Interior of the Studio 12 theatre in Bratislava (21st Century) by Iveta KonýčkováThe Theatre Institute

The Studio 12 Theatre in Bratislava

Initiated by the Theatre Institute, Studio 12 was founded in December 2001 as a unique theatre space designed to present new Slovak and international drama and contemporary art. It originally hosted the recording studio of the Czechoslovak Radio. 

Interior of the Studio 12 theatre (2019) by Iveta KonýčkováThe Theatre Institute

The studio itself is a technical historical sight, which is why the architectural structure and the interior have been preserved almost in their original state.

Photograph, the Old Boiler Room in Bratislava (2019) by Petra HuraiThe Theatre Institute

The Old Boiler Room

An unusual creative space of Faculty of Architecture of Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava. After the abolishment of the old heating system the boiler room had been used as a storage room for a long time.
Thanks to the artistic interventions from the students, the storage space was slowly turned into a creative space which hosts also various theatre, musical, and performative projects, including professional ones.

Photograph, the tent of the Teatro Tatro theatre (2019) by Teatro TatroThe Theatre Institute

Teatro Tatro Theatre

Teatro Tatro was established in 1990 as an independent theatre that associated actors, directors, stage designer, their wives and children. Because they desired to perform on all streets of the world, the theatre owned a trailer and a circus tent.

Teatro Tatro theatre (21st Century) by Fero LiptákThe Theatre Institute

In 2008, the tent and trailer used for the performances by the Teatro Tatro were complemented by a new means of transport and the theatre started the very successful project known as The Magical Theatrical Vending Machine.  

The small truck is adapted to be driven on all kinds of roads and equipped with full sound and lighting technology. 

Photograph, Teatro Tatro: The Magical Theatrical Vending Machine (2010) by René MikoThe Theatre Institute

The Magical Theatrical Vending Machine had its worldwide premiere at the 2010 Cultural Olympiad in Canada, where it became a hit.

Interior of the State Theatre in Košice (2010) by Olja Triaška StefanovićThe Theatre Institute

In any historical period, theatre architecture sensitively responds to the needs and values of the society. In Baroque theatre, the performing space was divided into two parts for the first time – the stage and auditorium – that were strictly separated by a curtain. With little alterations, this principle has been preserved and used until today. 

Photograph, the Žilina-Záriečie Station (2009) by Jitka SedlákováThe Theatre Institute

Since the beginning of the 20th century, theatre has also tried to abandon this model and sought a more authentic way to communicate with the audience –  in circus tents, factory halls, cellars, boiler rooms, private apartments, as well as in public places or buildings.     

Credits: Story

Slovak Theatre Architecture II.
Author: Miroslav Daubrava
Slovak proofreading: Mária Kvaššayová
English translation: Ivan Lacko
Editors: Vladislava Fekete, Dominika Zaťková
Production: Zuzana Poliščák Šnircová, Marko Popović
In cooperation with: Záhorie Region Museum Skalica, Teatro Tatro, Matúš Lošonský


The Theatre Institute has made all possible efforts to identify the authors of the graphic or photographic works used in this publication, as well as to obtain legal permission for their use. If you are the holder of the rights to any of the works used herein, please contact the Theatre Institute: du@theatre.sk.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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