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Teatro Municipal de Constitución


Constitución, Maule, Chile

August 2023


Alejandro Aravena (Head of Design), Juan Cerda (Project Manager)



Ilustre Municipalidad de Constitución




The proposal is basically a box within a box. There is one inner volume containing the theater that is introverted. Then there is an outer box, made of wood, given that this region is the center of the Chilean forest production. In between the two, we introduced a sequence of deep openings to allow for cross ventilation and natural light in the foyer. Given the building is located in the central civic square of Constitución, the opaque surfaces between the openings serve as projection panels and the openings as stages for public outdoor events.


On February 27th 2010, Chile was hit by an 8.8 earthquake and a tsunami afterwards. Over 50% of the city of Constitución was devastated.
The government and Arauco - the main forest company in Chile - asked us to submit a Masterplan for the Sustainable Reconstruction of the city in 100 days in order to make an efficient and coordinated use of public and private resources. The main point of the Masterplan was to respond to a geographical threat at a geographical scale; so we proposed a forest to dissipate (instead of resisting) the energy of the tsunami.
This new anti-tsunami urban DNA for the city was accompanied with proposals for new housing, road infrastructure and almost all the of the public buildings of the city. All this was done with intense participation of the people. One of the highest priorities of the community was the reconstruction of the Municipal Theatre. A venue for 500 seats located in the central civic square of the city.


The theater performance hall seats 500 people. The stage area includes an orchestra pit, wings, and backstage space for rigging different types of performances, from community events to opera and concerts. To keep the theater within the building height of the surrounding buildings, the main hall sits below grade, which renders the building fully accessible without relying on mechanical means, including backstage areas. The new theater is a considerable upgrade from the previous building, and it is an aspiration that such a facility will allow to bring to Constitución high quality performances and shows, something that is often reserved for larger cities with better cultural infrastructure. The building also unfolds to the surrounding plazas. The deep openings offer possibilities for outdoor stages and the opaque facades support outdoor screenings. The building is therefore capable of serving 3000 people events on the plazas surrounding the building. This double role of the building, covering a wide range of events, is what will transform the Municipal Theater in a new center of the community’s life.

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